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743 and 745 Broadway 




Copyright, 1880, 
By Asa Gray. 

Cambridoe : 

UnvKBMtn Prim: John Wtuwb & Son. 



AM invited to address you upon the rela- 
tions of science to religion, — in reference, 
as I suppose, to those claims of natural science 
which have been thought to be antagonistic to 
supernatural religion, and to those assumptions 
connected with the Christian faith which scien- 
tific men in our day are disposed to question or 
to reject. 

While listening weekly — I hope with edifi- 
cation — to the sermons which it is my privilege 
and duty to hear, it has now and then occurred 
to me that it might be well if an occasional dis- 
course could be addressed from the pews to the 
pulpit. But, until your invitation reached me, 
I had no idea that I should ever be called upon 
to put this passing thought into practice. I am 
sufficiently convinced already that the members 


of a profession know their own calling better 
than any one else can know it ; and in respect 
to the debatable land which lies along the bor- 
ders of theology and natural science, and which 
has been harried by many a raid from both 
sides, I am not confident that I can be helpful 
in composing strifes or in the fixing of bounda- 
ries; nor that you will agree with me that some 
of the encounters were inevitable, and some of 
the alarm groundless. Indeed upon much that 
I may have to say, I expect rather the chari- 
table judgment than the full assent of those 
whose approbation I could most wish to win. 

But I take it for granted that you do not 
wish to hear an echo from the pulpit nor from 
the theological class-room. You ask a layman 
to speak from this desk because you would have 
a layman's thoughts, expressed from a layman's 
point of view ; because you would know what 
a naturalist comes to think upon matters of 
common interest. And you would have him 
liberate his mind frankly, unconventionally, and 
witli as little as may be of the technicalities of 
our several professions. Frankness is always 
commendable; but outspokenness upon delicate 
and unsettled problems, in the ground of which 
cherished convictions are rooted, ought to be 


tempered with consideration. Now I, as a lay- 
man, may claim a certain license in this regard ; 
and any over-free handling of sensitive themes 
should compromise no one but myself. 

As a student who has devoted an ordinary 
lifetime to one branch of natural history, in 
which he is supposed to have accumulated a fair 
amount of particular experience and to have 
gained a general acquaintance with scientific 
methods and aims, — as one, moreover, who 
has taken kindly to the new turn of biological 
study in these latter years, but is free from par- 
tisanship, — I am asked to confer with other and 
younger students, of another kind of science, in 
respect to the tendencies of certain recently 
developed doctrines, which in schools of theology 
are almost everywhere spoken against, but which 
are everywhere permeating the lay mind — 
whether for good or for evil — and are raising 
questions more or less perplexing to all of us. 

But our younger and middle-aged men must 
not think that such perplexities and antagonisms 
have only recently begun. Some of them are 
very old ; some are old questions transferred to 
new ground, in which they spring to rankness 
of growth, or sink their roots till they touch 
deeper issues than before, — issues of philosophy 


rather than of science, upon which the momen- 
tous question of theism or non-theism eventually 
turns. Some on the other hand are mere sur- 
vivals, now troublesome only to those who are 
holding fast to theological positions which the 
advance of actual knowledge has rendered un- 
tenable, but which they do not well know how 
to abandon ; yet which, in principle, have mostly 
been abandoned already. 

To begin with trite examples. Among the 
questions which disquieted pious souls in my 
younger days, but which have ceased to disquiet 
any of us, are those respecting the age and 
gradual development of the earth and of the 
solar system, which came in with geology and 
modern astronomy. I remember the time when 
it was a mooted question whether geology and 
orthodox Christianity were compatible ; and I 
suppose that when, in these quarters, the bal- 
ance inclined to the affirmative, it was owing 
quite as much to Professor Silliman's transpar- 
ent Christian character as to his scientific abil- 
ity. One need not be an old man to know that 
Laplace was accounted an atheist because he 
developed the nebular hypothesis, and because 
of his remark thai he had no need to postulate 
a Creator for the mathematical discussion of a 


physical theorem; for a venerable and most 
religious astronomer, still living, who adopted 
this hypothesis in his "Exposition of certain 
Harmonies of the Solar System/' published only 
five years ago, thought it needful to add an 
appendix, asking the question, " Is the nebular 
hypothesis, in any form, essentially atheistical in 
its character ? " He answered it in the negative, 
but with the salvo, that " this hypothesis, having 
to do with a strictly azoic period, enforces no 
connection with 'the development theory' of 
the beginning or of the progress of life." 

The great antiquity of the habitable world 
and of existing races was the next question. 
It gave some anxiety fifty years ago ; but 
is now, I suppose, generally acquiesced in, — in 
the sense that existing species of plants and 
animals have been in existence for many thou- 
sands of years ; and, as to their associate, man, 
all agree that the length of his occupation is not 
at all measured by the generations of the bibli- 
cal chronology, and are awaiting the result of 
an open discussion as to whether the earliest 
known traces of his presence are in quaternary 
or in the latest tertiary deposits. 

As connected with this class of questions, 
many of us remember the time when schemes 


for reconciling Genesis with Geology had an 
importance in the churches, and among thought- 
ful people, which few if any would now assign 
to them ; when it was thought necessary — for 
only necessity could justify it — to bring the 
details of the two into agreement by extraneous 
suppositions and forced constructions of lan- 
guage, such as would now offend our critical and 
sometimes our moral sense. The change of view 
which we have witnessed amounts to this. Our 
predecessors implicitly held that Holy Scripture 
must somehow truly teach such natural science 
as it had occasion to refer to, or at least could 
never contradict it; while the most that is now 
intelligently claimed is, that the teachings of 
the two, properly understood, are not incompati- 
ble. We may take it to be the accepted idea 
that the Mosaic books were not handed down to 
us for our instruction in scientific knowledge, 
and that it is our duty to ground our scientific 
beliefs upon observation and inference, unmixed 
with considerations of a different order. Then, 
when fundamental principles of the cosmogony 
in Genesis arc found to coincide with established 
facts and probable inferences, the coincidence 
has its value; and wherever the particulars are 
incongruous, the discrepancy docs not distress us, 


I may add, does not concern us. I trust that 
the veneration rightly due to the Old Testament 
is not impaired by the ascertaining that the 
Mosaic is not an original but a compiled cos- 
mogony. Its glory is, that while its materials 
were the earlier property of the race, they were 
in this record purged of polytheism and Nature- 
worship, and impregnated with ideas which we 
suppose the world will never outgrow. For its 
fundamental note is, the declaration of one God, 
maker of heaven and earth, and of all things, 
visible and invisible, — a declaration which, if 
physical science is unable to establish, it is 
equally unable to overthrow. 

But, leaving aside for the present all ques- 
tions of this sort, I proceed with the proper 
subject of this discourse; namely, the further 
changes in scientific belief, which have occurred 
within my own recollection, even since the time 
when I first aspired to authorship, now forty- 
five years ago. 

There will be no need to go much beyond 
the line of subjects which it has been my busi- 
ness to study, in order to bring before you, in a 
cursory review, not indeed all the disturbing 
topics of the time, but quite enough of them 
for our purpose. For the changes which we 


have to consider are all more or less connected 
with the evolutionary theories which are now 
uppermost in the popular mind. In this pres- 
entation, it is best to set them forth in their 
simplest or most general form, divested of all 
theological or philosophical considerations, which 
have been or may be attached to them. I 
should rather say, to some of them. For the 
foundations, or at least the buttresses, of the 
now prevalent doctrine of the derivative origin 
of species mainly rest upon researches inde- 
pendently made, without speculative bias, being 
the general contributions to biological science 
in this century ; the results of which have been 
accepted as far as made out without apprehen- 
sion or other than scientific controversy. 

Upon no one of these particular points has 
there been a completer change of view than 
upon the distinctness of the animal and vege- 
table kingdoms. The former conviction that 
these two kingdoms were wholly different in 
structure, in function, and in kind of life, was 
not seriously disturbed by the difficulties which 
the naturalist encountered when he undertook 
to define them. It was always understood that 
plants and animals, though completely contrasted 
in their higher representatives, approached each 


other very closely in their lower and simpler 
forms. But they were believed not to blend. 
It was implicitly supposed that every living 
thing was distinctively plant or animal ; that 
there were real and profound differences be- 
tween the two, if only they could be seized ; 
and that increased powers of investigation — 
microscopical and chemical — might be expected 
to discover them. This expectation has not 
been fulfilled. It is true that the ambiguities 
of a hundred years ago are settled now. The 
zoophytes are all remanded to their proper 
places, though the animal kingdom at first 
claimed more than belonged to it. But other, 
more recondite and insurmountable, difficulties 
arose in their place. The best, I am disposed 
to say the settled, opinion now is, that there 
are multitudinous forms which are not suffi- 
ciently differentiated to be distinctively either 
plant or animal, while, as respects ordinary 
plants and animals, the difficulty of laying 
down a definition has become far greater than 
ever before. In short, the animal and vege- 
table lines, diverging widely above, join below 
in a loop. Naturalists may help classification, 
but do not alter these facts, when they sever 
this loop arbitrarily at what they deem the 


lowest point, or when they cut away the whole 
loop, and form of it a separate kingdom — the 
Protista of Haeckel. The only objection to the 
latter is that the definition of this tertium quid 
from plant on the one hand and animal on the 
other is equally impracticable. One difficulty 
is removed only to have two in its place. The 
fact is, that a new article has recently been 
added to the scientific creed, — the essential 
oneness of the two kingdoms of organic nature. 
I crave your patience while I enter somewhat 
into particulars. 

Not many years ago it was taught that plants 
and animals were composed of different mate- 
rials : plants, of a chemical substance of three 
elements, — carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen ; ani- 
mals of one of four elements, nitrogen being 
added to the other three. The plant substance, 
named cellulose, because it formed the cell-walls, 
was supposed to constitute the whole vegetable 
fabric. It was known that all plants produced 
nitrogenous matter in the form of a compound 
of four elements ; but this was thought to be 
merely a contained product, in a structureless 
condition, and to be not so much essential to 
the plant's life as to that of the animals which 
the plants nourished. It was known to be struc- 


ture-building material for animals : it was not 
known to be essential plani>structure also. But 
it was soon ascertained that this quaternary 
matter of the animal body was chemically the 
same in the plant, was elaborated there, and 
only appropriated by the animal. Next it was 
found that it was physiologically and struc- 
turally the same in the plant, that it was the 
living part of the plant, that which manifested 
the life and did the work in vegetable as well 
as in animal organisms. This substance, which 
is manifold in its forms and protean in its trans- 
formations, has, in its state of living matter, one 
physiological name which has become familiar, 
that of protoplasm. The statement that " proto- 
plasm is the physical basis of life " must be 
accepted as true. As Professor Allman puts it, 
" wherever there is life, from its lowest to its 
highest manifestations, there is protoplasm ; 
wherever there is protoplasm, there too is life/' 
or has been. The cellulose or solid material 
which composes the bulk of a tree or herb did 
not produce the protoplasm contained in its 
living parts, as was formerly supposed, but the 
protoplasm produced the cellulose : the semi- 
liquid and mobile matter within produced the 
cell-walls which enclose it. The walls or solid 


parts are to the protoplasm what the shell is to 
the oyster. The contents not only preceded 
the protective investment, but can exist and 
prosper apart from it, as many a mollusk does, 
as many a simple plant does throughout the 
earlier and most active period of its life. In- 
deed this slimy matter lives before and apart 
from any thing which can be called a living 
being. A formless, apparently diffluent and 
structureless mass is seen to exhibit the essen- 
tial phenomena of life, — to move, to feed, to 
grow, to multiply. We have spoken of beings 
so low in the scale that the individuals through- 
out their whole existence are not sufficiently 
specialized to be distinctively plant or animal : 
yet these are definite in form and fixed in 
phase, are individual beings, though we may 
not determine to which kingdom they belong. 
But there is life in simpler shape, 

" If shape it might be called that shape has none, 
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,'' 

there is vital activity in that which has not 
attained even the semblance of individuality. 
Little lumps of protoplasm are these, with out- 
line in a state of perpetual change, divisible 
into two or three or more, or two or three com- 


bining into one mass, either way without hin- 
dering or altering their manifestations. This 
living matter — of which Bathybiiis, if there be 
a Bathybius, or if it be any thing more than pro- 
toplasm of sponges, is one example — is said to 
have nothing more than molecular structure. 
It would be safer to say that the microscope 
has as yet revealed no organic structure. 

The natural history of protoplasm has re- 
cently been well expounded by Professor All- 
man, late President of the British Association, 
a most judicious naturalist, of conservative 
tendency; and his address, which you have 
read or should read, saves me from further de- 
tails, and enables me to proceed to other evi- 
dences of the substantial oneness of the two 
kingdoms of organic nature. 

Cellulose makes up the bulk of a vegetable, 
and was thought to be its true element. But it 
is now known to be not even peculiar to it : it 
enters largely into the fabric of certain ani- 
mals, not of the very lowest grade. Starch 
was equally regarded afc a purely and charac- 
teristically vegetable production ; and its pres- 
ence, in ambiguous cases, has been taken as a 
test. But it follows the example of cellulose. 
Being a prepared material from which cellulose 


in the plant is made by a molecular change, 
we are not now surprised to learn that starch- 
grains of animal origin have been found. We 
cannot conceive any thing more characteristic 
of a vegetable than chlorophyll, the green of 
herbage ; for in it the special work of the plant 
is done, — namely, the transformation of mine- 
ral matter into organic, under the light of the 
sun, this being the prerogative of vegetation. 
Now, not only does chlorophyll abound in many 
ambiguous microscopical organisms of fresh and 
salt water, which except for this would be taken 
for animals, but it has recently been detected in 
hydras and sea-anemones and planarias, which 
are as certainly animals as are oysters and 
clams. Nor can it be thought that they possess 
something merely resembling chlorophyll ; for 
it performs the characteristic work of that pe- 
culiar substance, which, as I have said, is the 
characteristic work of vegetation. For the 
index and essential accompaniment of this 
work (i e., of the conversion of mineral into 
organic matter) is the evolution of oxygen gas 
from the decomposition of carbonic acid, water, 
&c, in which, if in any thing, vegetation con- 
sists. Now, the proof that what these animals 
possess is chlorophyll itself is demonstrated 


by their performance of the same function. 
They decompose carbonic acid and evolve oxy- 
gen gas, just as a green leaf does. Moreover, 
the chlorophyll has been extracted and identi- 
fied by the spectroscopic test. Here, then, 
animals, undoubted animals, in addition to their 
own proper functions, take on the essential func- 
tion of plants. There is no avoiding the con- 
clusion that such animals are doing the duty 
of vegetables. 

Although I make little account of it, I should 
not overlook a more empirical distinction be- 
tween the two kingdoms which has also failed. 
The characteristic features of an animal were 
mouth and stomach. This is the normal cor- 
relation of an animal with its conditions. Hav- 
ing to feed on vegetable matter, or what has been 
vegetable matter, in solid as well as liquid form, 
a mouth opening into an internal cavity of 
some sort was the natural pattern, to which 
all animals were supposed to conform. But 
Nature, with all her fondness for patterns, will 
not be arbitrarily held to them. Entozoa feed 
like rhizophytes; and turbellarias and their 
relatives have no alimentary canal, — the food 
taken by what answ r ers to mouth passing as 
directly into the general tissue as does the 


material which a parasitic root imbibes from its 
host, or an ordinary root from the soil. 

While animals are thus overpassing the 
boundary in one direction, vegetables are mak- 
ing reprisals on the other. The rule is, that 
vegetables create organic matter, and animals 
consume it, producing none. But, while some 
animals produce some organic matter, some 
plants even among those of the highest grade 
feed wholly upon other plants, or even upon 
animals or their products. Like animals, some 
are herbivorous and some are carnivorous. 
That certain plants live parasitically upon 
other plants or upon animals, has long been too 
familiar to be remarkable. But that plants of 
the highest grade could capture or in some way 
take possession of small animals, extract and 
feed upon their juices, and appropriate these 
as nourishment, is essentially a recent wonder 
and a recently ascertained fact. Yet some of 
the facts which point to this conclusion are old 
enough ; and the conclusion would probably 
have l)een reached years ago, except for the 
preconception that plants and animals were too 
distinct for interchange of functions. Now that 
we know they are not, and that thv living 
struct mo in the two is fundamentally identi- 


cal, what were formerly regarded as freaks of 
Nature are no longer mere wonderments, but 
parts of a system, and capable of being cor- 
related with the rest by investigation. And 
investigation soon ascertained that this carnivo- 
rous attachment to the vegetable organism in 
Dioncea and Drosera was an organ for digesting 
as well as capturing animal food. Juices are 
imbibed by it directly, as in animals from the 
stomach ; and nourishing solid parts are ren- 
dered soluble and assimilable by imbuing them 
with peptones or digestive ferments, analogous 
in composition and in action to the gastric juice 
of the higher animals. 

Perhaps nothing in Nature can be more won- 
derful than all this • and nothing is more char- 
acteristic of the change which has come over 
scientific mind in our day than the manner in 
which such a discovery is received. The lead- 
ing facts were well known a hundred years ago, 
and more. But, until recently, these phenomena 
were regarded as altogether anomalous ; and 
such anomalies appear to have troubled no- 
body, except the framers of definitions. " Lasus 
natures " was a convenient phrase, and stood in 
the place of explanation, — as if the play of 
Nature was something apart from her work. 


No one seems to have had any difficulty in 
believing that a few particular plants were en- 
dowed with faculties of which no other plants 
were sharers. The thoughtful naturalist of our 
day is in a different frame of mind. He ex- 
pects to find that the extraordinary is only an 
extreme case of the ordinary ; and he looks for 
instances leading up from the one to the other. 
I cannot tarry to explain how this expectation 
has directed observation and stimulated research 
in this particular field, and reached the result 
that these wonderful plants are distinguished 
only by higher degrees and more prominent 
manifestations of a power which is in some sort 
common to many or to all their brethren. We 
learn, even, that the germinating embryo of a 
grain of corn feeds upon' and digests the solid 
maternal nourishment which surrounds it, and 
the humblest mould appropriates the organic 
matter which it attacks, by the aid of a peptone 
or inversive ferment, not different in nature and 
office from the gastric and other juices by aid of 
which we appropriate our daily meals. 

It does appear also that the lowest organ- 
isms, which live a kind of scavenger life, by 
using over again dead or effete organic matter 
running to decay — but to some of which living 


juices come not amiss — have also the power, 
certain salts being given, of creating organic 
matter, and building up a fabric without sun- 
light and without chlorophyll. Here, then, is 
the simplest organic life, — in which, germs be- 
ing given, i. e. first individuals of the sort sup- 
plied and placed in favorable surroundings, 
they increase and multiply into more, each to 
multiply again, and so on, in geometrical pro- 
gression. From such lowly basis the two king- 
doms may be conceived to rise, diverging as 
they ascend in separate lines, — the one devel- 
oping close relations with sunlight and becom- 
ing the food-producing vegetable realm ; the 
other, the food-consuming animal realm, which, 
dispensed from the labor of assimilation, and 
from the fixity of position which generally at- 
tends it, may rise to higher and freer mani- 
festations of life. Such, at least, appear to be 
the relations of the two kingdoms to each 
other and to their common base ; and such 
is the conception through which we may attain 
to an explanation of how it may be that mem- 
bers of each line possess so many characteristics 
of the other. 

I have said, " germs being given," the forms 
increase and multiply. If asked, Whence the 


germs, and were they everywhere and always 
prerequisite ? the scientific answer must be yes, 
so far as we know. Thus far, spontaneous 
generation, or abiogenesis, — the incoming of 
life apart from that which is living, — is not 
supported by any unequivocal evidence, though 
not a little may be said in its favor. However 
it may be in the future, here scientific belief 
stands mainly where it did forty-five years ago, 
only on a better-tried and firmer footing. 

It remains to mention two supposed distinc- 
tions between vegetables and animals which 
were until recently prominent, but which are 
no longer criteria, even as between the higher 
forms of the two. 

The first is the faculty of automatic move- 
ment, or — to take up the question only on 
the highest plane — the faculty of making 
movements in reference to ends. This is 
affirmed of animals, and is an undoubted faculty 
of all of them, but was long denied » to plants, 
perhaps from a notion that such movements 
argued consciousness. But consciousness, in 
any legitimate wnw of the term, pertains only 
to the higher animals. To show the breaking 
down of (he distinction, it would suffice to con- 
trast the rooted fixity and vegetative growth of 


very many lower animals with the free loco- 
motion of most microscopic aquatic plants and 
of the germs of those not microscopic ; but 
plants of the highest organization furnish ob- 
vious examples better suited to our purpose. 
Is there not an independent movement, in re- 
sponse to an external impression, and in refer- 
ence to an end, when the two sides of the trap 
of Dioncea suddenly enclose an alighted fly, 
cross their fringe of marginal bristles over the 
only avenue of escape, remain quiescent in this 
position long enough to give a small fly full 
opportunity to crawl out, soon open if this hap- 
pens, but after due interval shut down firmly 
upon one of greater size which cannot get out, 
then pour out digestive juices, and in due time 
re-absorb the whole ? So, w T hen the free end of 
a twining stem, or the whole length of a ten- 
dril, outreaches horizontally and makes circular 
sweeps, and secures thereby a support, to which 
it clings by coiling; when a tendril, having 
fixed its tip to a distant support, shortens itself 
by coiling, so bringing the next tendril nearer 
the support ; when a free revolving tendril 
avoids winding up itself uselessly around the 
stem it belongs to, and in the only practicable 
way, namely, by changing from the horizontal 


to the vertical position until it passes by it, 
and then rapidly resumes its horizontal sweep, 
to result in reaching a distant support, — is it pos- 
sible to think that these are not movements in 
reference to ends ? You may say that all such 
movements are capable of explanation, or in 
time will be so ; are the result of mechanism, 
and adjustments, and of common physical forces. 
No doubt; and this is equally true of every 
animal movement, not excepting those insti- 
gated by volition. " Still it moves," as the 
humbled Galileo said of the earth ; and the 
idea that such movements are in reference to 
ends is not superseded by any yet devised ex- 
planation of the mechanism. 

A remaining distinction between plants and 
animals was based on the relations they respec- 
tively sustain to the air we breathe. This has 
already been stated, and the exceptions noted ; 
but the topic is resumed in order to bring to 
view the substantially different relations of the 
two kingdoms to physical force. 

Plants give out oxygen gas, and thus purify 
the air for the respiration of animals. Animals, 
consuming this oxygen, breathe it back to the air 
in the form of carbonic acid. But the putting of 
this contrast is only another way of saying that 


plants produce organic matter and animals de- 
compose it. The oxygen gas given out by sun- 
lit foliage is just what is left over when carbonic 
acid is decomposed and the carbon enters into 
the composition of the vegetable matter then 
produced. This elaborated matter, more com- 
plex and unstable than the materials of which 
it was made, is the food of animals, is first ap- 
propriated, then decomposed by them, and in the 
decomposition the carbon is given back to the 
air recombined with the oxygen they inhale, 
the carbon again taking the oxygen which was 
separated from it by the plant. So respiration 
means decomposition; and this decomposition 
in the animal economy means organic material 
used up, work done, energy degraded. It means 
that the clock-weight which was wound up by 
the sun in the plant has run down. It means 
that, very much as the sun, shining on the earth 
and ocean, converts water into vapor and lifts it 
into the upper air, so the same luminary, shining 
upon the plant, there raises mineral matter to a 
higher and unstable state, in what we call organic 
products, — in both cases endowing the affected 
matter with a certain energy. The exalted 
matter in the one case falls at length as rain, 
perhaps directly into the ocean from which it 


was lifted, perhaps upon a mountain summit, 
where as snow or glacier-ice it may long remain 
poised and comparatively stationary. But sooner 
or later it falls into the rivulet and the river, 
and in its fall and flow it expends its endow- 
ment of energy, and does work, — turns wheels 
and spins or forges, if man so directs, — and, 
when it has reached stable equilibrium at the 
level of the ocean, it will have expended just 
the energy which was imparted to it in the rais- 
ing. So the energy with which the sun endowed 
vegetable matter when it was raised to the or- 
ganic state may be given up as heat when this 
matter is restored to its original condition by 
burning, or falls slowly back to the same con- 
dition in the process of natural decay ; or the 
heat, like the falling water, may do mechanical 

But also the organic material may be con- 
sumed in the plant itself. For the plant, like 
the animal, is a consumer. The only difference 
is that, whereas the animal is always and only 
a consumer and decomposer, the plant creates 
or composes likewise, and it produces vastly 
more than it consumes or decomposes. It de- 
composes only when it does mechanical work. 
But all its processes, all movements, all trans- 


formations, are work done at the expense of 
organized material and accumulated energy. 
Even the act of storing up solar force in the 
green herbage, or rather the changes connected 
with it, can only be done at a certain cost, 
though the cost is small in comparison with the 
gain. But every transference of material from 
one place or one state to another is done only 
by the decomposition and loss of some portion 
of it, — one part suffering that another may be 
changed and saved. When the germ feeds 
upon the maternal store in the seed, a consid- 
erable part is consumed in order to make the 
rest available ; and the loss is made manifest, 
just as in the breathing of an v animal or in the 
combustion of fuel, by the evolution of carbonic 
acid and of heat. The same thing in its measure 
occurs in the upbuilding of the fabric, the car- 
rying of material high into the air, — into a 
tree-top, for instance; and in 'all the processes 
of flowering, and in storing up in the seed the 
richest products as an outfit for a new genera- 
tion. Where visible movements take place, the 
quicker action is at equivalent cost. The sen- 
sitive tendril, which will coil promptly after the 
first brushing with my finger, will coil again 
only after an interval of rest, and upon the 


third or fourth excitation, or after a certain 
number of spontaneous revolutions, it falls ex- 

But material endowed with energy in the 
plant is largely transferred as food to animals. 
It brings to them an energy which they may 
use, but did not originate. 

Not many years ago, it was taken for granted 
that living things moved and had their being, 
and did their work, by strength of their own ; 
that the power by which I strike a blow, or 
write on my paper, or move my lips in articu- 
late speech, was somehow an original contribu- 
tion to, rather than a directed use of, the 
common forces of physical nature. To all who 
have familiarized themselves with the facts of 
the case, the contrary is now substantially cer- 
tain. The sun is the source of all motion and 
force manifested in life on the earth, and plants 
are the medium in which energy is exalted to the 
most serviceable state. The work done by liv- 
ing beings is at the expense of, and is measured 
by, the passage of so much matter from an un- 
stable to a relatively stable equilibrium, by the 
coining together of molecules into closer and 
firmer positions, and by the attendant fall of so 
much energy from an exalted to a relatively 


degraded condition. So plants, animals, men, 
in all their doings, add nothing to and take 
nothing from the sum of physical force. Their 
prerogative is, each in its measure, to direct 
the application of physical force, and to direct 
it to ends. 

The idea of ends involves that of individuality. 

The higher animals, and men among them, 
are complete individuals. We cannot make the 
idea of individuality any clearer than by adduc- 
ing them as examples of it. In the lowest form 
of life, in those amorphous or indefinitely poly- 
morphous "little lumps of protoplasm " which 
the biologists have made known to us, and even, 
perhaps, in a stratum or mass which takes the 
form of whatever bounds it, it is said that we 
may contemplate the phenomena of life in that 
which has no manifest individuality. What 
have we between these two extremes? 

The first and simplest individuality is that of 
cells. Cell-doctrine, or the cellular composition 
of plants and animals, belongs wholly to the 
biological science of the last half-century, al- 
though the name is older, and some knowledge 
of the structure in plants is as old as the micro- 
scope. The homologizing of animals with plants 


in this regard began about forty years ago ; and 
the doctrine of the individual life of cells is re- 
cent. Unfortunately the rather inappropriate 
name cell came into use before the structure 
was rightly understood, and may be misleading. 
It was given, naturally enough, to the walls cir- 
cumscribing cavities in ordinary plant-tissue, 
before it was understood that the walls were 
not made and then filled, — before it was known 
that the contents are the living thing, and the 
wall an encasement or shell. 

The substance of our recent knowledge is, 
that a plant is an aggregate of organic units, 
mostly of very small size ; that these are to the 
herb or tree what the bricks and stones of this 
chapel are to the edifice. Only they " are living 
stones, fitly framed together " in organic growth, 
and their walls answer to the cement. Animals 
do not differ materially, except that the mortar 
is mostly of the same nature as the bricks, and 
there is a greater or at length complete fusion 
or confluence of the cells. The component mate- 
rial, the protoplasm, is essentially the same, as 
has already been stated. 

But each aggregate, each ordinary plant or 
animal, begins as one cell, which is then the sim- 
ple individual. This in growth and propagation 


divides itself into two, these two into four, these 
into sixteen, and so on, thus building up the 
structure, — a whole, of which the individual 
cells are component parts. The simplest plant 
begins in the same way with an initial cell, but 
this, instead of multiplying with cohesion into 
a structure, multiplies with separation into pro- 
geny. Other simple plants go on without sep- 
aration to form a row of similar cells, which 
may casually fall apart into individuals or may 
remain connected ; but in either case each has 
its own life, and does what the others do, so that 
the separation or the continued connection is a 
matter of indifference. But when, higher in the 
scale, structures are built up, what were indi- 
viduals become parts or organs, or the thou- 
sandth or millionth part of an organ ; then the 
life of the cells is their own no less, but their 
individuality blends in the common life of the 
aggregate. By increasing complexity of or- 
ganization, ' with increasing subordination of 
parts and specialization of office, the highest 
plants and animals are composed. In them each 
unit or cell has its own life and its own nutri- 
tion, while also contributing to the common 
weal, — some by this function, some by that ; but 
in the higher forms all are somehow controlled 


by a pervasive life and directed to common 
ends, — ends the more various, complex, and 
special, in proportion to the rank of the organ- 
ism in the scale of being. So, too, the compo- 
nent cells become effete and die, while the 
aggregate life continues; and the continued 
structure, which is nothing but an aggregate, 
is somehow informed, animated, and operated 
by a common life of higher grade than that of 
any or all its components. 

In numerous lower plants and animals we 
cannot definitely determine what are organisms 
and what are organs ; in the herb or tree, and 
in the coral polypidom, organ, individual, colony 
are inextricably blended ; in the higher animals 
subordination of parts to a whole is completely 
attained. All along the ascent that which con- 
trols and subordinates parts aggrandizes its man- 
ifestations. The lowest animals add very little 
to merely vegetative life, except greater sensi- 
tiveness to external impressions and more free 
and varied response ; a step higher brings in a 
greater range of unconscious feeling ; the higher 
brute animals have attained unto specific desires, 
affections, imagination, and the elements of 
simple thought ; the highest, gifted with reflect- 
ive reason, may make their own thoughts the 


subject of thought. So, our conception of indi- 
viduality is from ourselves, conscious beings: 
it is carried down unqualified to the brute 
animals with which we are associated; it be- 
comes vague and shadowy in plants, but still, 
somehow, the idea inheres throughout all organ- 
isms. The beginning of organization is indi- 
viduation or tendency to individualize. The 
completed self is man. 

Here let me interject a remark in correction 
of a common misapprehension as regards the 
nature of the simplicity of the lowest organisms. 
An animalcule and a unicellular plant, or the cel- 
lular components of common plants or animals, 
are simple indeed, comparatively. But the recent 
science which has brought out the close connec- 
tion of the lower with the higher forms (and 
showed that through all " one increasing purpose 
runs ") is also showing, in all the latest micro- 
scopic work, that the plant-cell and the animal- 
cell are really very complex structures, and the 
processes through which one cell becomes two, 
instead of being a simple bisection, prove, to be 
very elaborate and wonderful. The further the 
investigation is carried under the modern micro- 
scope, the more complex and recondite does 



their structure and behavior appear to be. They 
seemed to be simple because they are small; 
but much of the simplicity vanishes upon inti- 
mate acquaintance. Wherefore, in view of re- 
cent discoveries of this sort, it is premature to 
conclude that the " little lumps of protoplasm " 
described by Haeckel are really destitute of 
organic structure. It is an illusion to fancy that 
the mystery of life is less in an amoeba or a 
blood-corpuscle than in a man. 

From individuals in themselves, let us pass to 
questions relating to their succession and kinds. 

Plants and animals, each propagating their 
kind, produce lines of individuals, sustaining to 
each other the relation of parent and progeny. 
These lines are the species of the naturalist. 
Have the species come down from the begin- 
ning of life, unaltered or altered ; or have there 
been successive creations ? 

Taking first the vegetable and animal king- 
doms as a whole, it has long been well under- 
stood that ages upon ages have passed since the 
earth was stocked with living beings of numerous 
sorts. Kind after kind has appeared, flourished, 
and disappeared; and, in the long succession, 
species of progressively higher rank have come 


into existence, the forms more and more ap- 
proximating those which now exist. There is 
good reason to believe that at more than one 
epoch the earth has been as fully stocked with 
species as it is now, and in equal diversity, 
except as to the highest types. What relation 
have these beings of the earlier and of the suc- 
ceeding times sustained to each other and to 
the present inhabitants of the earth ? 

Half a century ago, when I began to read 
scientific books and journals, the commonly re- 
ceived doctrine was, that the earth had been 
completely depopulated and repopulated over 
and over, each time with a distinct population ; 
and that the species which now, along with man, 
occupy the present surface of the earth, belong 
to an ultimate and independent creation, having 
an ideal but no genealogical connection with 
those that preceded. This view, as a rounded 
whole and in all its essential elements, has very 
recently disappeared from science. It died a 
royal death with Agassiz, who maintained it 
with all his great ability, as long as it was tena- 
ble. I am not aware that it now has any scien- 
tific upholder. It is certain that there has been 
no absolute severance of the present from the 
nearer past ; for while some species have taken 


the place of other species, not a few have sur- 
vived unchanged, or almost unchanged. And 
it is most probable that this holds throughout ; 
for certain species appear to have bridged the 
intervals between successive epochs all along 
the line, surviving from one to another, and 
justifying the inference that species — however 
originated — have come in and gone out one by 
one, and that probably no universal catastrophe 
has ever blotted out life from the earth. Life 
seems to have gone on, through many and great 
vicissitudes, now with losses, now with renewals, 
and everywhere at length with change; but 
from first to last it has inhered in one system 
of nature, one vegetable and one animal king- 
dom, which themselves show indications of a 
common starting-point. As respects the vege- 
tation, from which I should naturally draw illus- 
trations, the nature and amount of the likeness 
between the existing flora and that of a preced- 
ing geological period has recently been summed 
up by Saporta in the statement that there is 
not a tree nor a shrub in Europe or North 
America which has not recognizable relatives 
in the fossil remains of the tertiary period. It 
is like visiting a country church-yard, where 
"The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep," 


and spelling out, one by one, from mossed and 
broken gravestones, the names of most of the 
living inhabitants of the parish, — names differ- 
ing it may be in orthography from those on 
the village signs ; but, as of the people, so of the 
trees, it is beyond reasonable doubt that the 
later are descendants of the earlier. 

The same holds true of animals; and the 
facts therefore point toward the conclusion that 
existing species in general are descended from 
tertiary ancestors. But if so they have mostly 
undergone change, and great change as we go 
farther back with the comparison. And there 
are many existing forms of which no fossil an- 
cestor is known. What relation, if any, can 
these sustain to a by-gone flora or fauna? And 
with what reason do we predicate change of 
species in former times if they are not change- 
able now ? This brings up the question of the 
fixity or variability of species. 

Scientific opinion upon this point is not what 
it w r as thirty or forty years ago. Then it was gen- 
erally, though not universally, believed that spe- 
cies are perfectly definite and stable; capable of 
variation, indeed, but only within circumscribed 
limits. Wherever it was difficult or impractica- 
ble to discriminate them, the difficulty was pre- 


sumed to be, not in the things themselves, but 
in the imperfection of the naturalist's knowl- 
edge or acumen. There was the evidence of a 
good number of cases to show that species had 
not perceptibly altered in four or five thousand 
years, and of some having lasted for a vastly 
longer time. Hence it was an article of scien- 
tific faith that species on the whole were fixed 
now, and that probably they have come down 
essentially unaltered from the beginning, — a be- 
ginning which was wholly beyond the ken and 
scope of science, which is concerned with ques- 
tions about how things go on, and has nothing 
to say as to how they absolutely began. The 
naturalists of that day might suppose — cer- 
tainly many of them did suppose — that exist- 
ing species may have come into being by other 
than direct supernatural origination, and, indeed, 
the foremost of them were well aware that the 
question of origin would have to be reargued 
at no distant day. But, so far, the various specu- 
lative attempts at explaining the mystery of the 
incoming of species had not been encouraging, 
and eminent naturalists deprecated all general 
theories of the sort, as at the best a waste of 
time. So the fixity and inscrutability of species 
— though silently doubted by some, and con- 


troverted by a few — was still the postulate of 
natural history; and more than one laborious 
naturalist has been known to declare that, if this 
fixity was not complete, natural history was not 
worth pursuing as a science. 

There is now a different attitude toward this 
class of questions. First, the absoluteness of 
species is no longer taken for granted. That 
species have a stability, that every form repro- 
duces after its kind, is obvious ; but it is equally 
obvious that the similarity of its individuals is 
not complete. It had been assumed that the 
differences brought about by variation are al- 
ways comparatively small, unessential, and lim- 
ited. This is now partly doubted, and partly 
explained away. 

In the first place, much of the popular idea of 
the distinctness of all species rests on a fallacy, 
which is obvious enough when once pointed 
out. In systematic works, every plant and ani- 
mal must be referred to some species, every 
species is described by such and such marks, 
and in the books one species is as good as 
another. The absoluteness of species, being 
the postulate of the science, was taken for 
granted to begin with; and so all the forms 
which have been named and admitted into the 


systematic works as species, are thereby assumed 
to be completely distinct. All the doubts and 
uncertainties which may have embarrassed the 
naturalist when he proposed or admitted a 
particular species, the nice balancing of the pro- 
babilities and the hesitating character of the 
judgment, either do not appear at all in the 
record or are overlooked by all but the critical 
student. Whether the form under consideration 
should be regarded as a new species, or should 
be combined with others into a more general- 
ized and variable species, is a question which a 
naturalist has to decide for the time being, 
often upon insufficient and always upon incom- 
plete knowledge ; and increasing knowledge and 
wider observation generally raise full as many 
doubts as they settle. This may not be so de- 
cidedly the case in zoology as in botany ; but I 
incline to the opinion that there is no wide dif- 
ference in this respect. The patient and plod- 
ding botanist spends much of his time in the 
endeavor to draw specific lines between the 
parts of a scries the extremes of which are pa- 
tently different^ while the means seem to fill 
the interval. When he IS addressed by the 
triumphant popular argument, "if one form and 
one species has been derived from another, 


show us the intermediate forms which prove it/' 
he can only ejaculate his wish that this ideal 
vegetable kingdom was the one he had to deal 
with. Moreover when he shows the connecting 
links, he is told, " Then these are all varieties 
of one species; species are fixed, only with 
wider variation than was thought." And when 
he points to the wide difference between the 
extremes, as being greater than that between 
undoubted species, he is met with the rejoinder, 
" Then here are two or three or more species 
which undoubtedly have true distinctions, if 
only you would find them out." That is quite 
possible, but it is hardly possible that such fine 
differences are supernatural. 

Some one when asked if he believed in ghosts, 
replied, No, he had seen too many of them. So 
I have been at the making and unmaking of far 
too many species to retain any overweening 
confidence in their definiteness and stability. I 
believe in them, certainly. I do not exactly 
agree that they " are shadows, not substantial 
things," but I believe that they have only a 
relative fixity and permanence. 

You will ask if lack of capacity to interbreed 
is not a criterion of species. I must answer, No. 
As a matter of course individuals of widely di- 


verse species cannot interbreed ; those of re- 
lated species not uncommonly do ; but it is said 
that when they do interbreed the hybrid pro- 
geny is sterile. Commonly it is so, sometimes 
not. The rule is not sufficiently true to serve as 
a test, either in the vegetable or in the animal 
kingdom. The only practical use of the test is 
for the discrimination of the higher grade of 
varieties from species. Now in fact some varie- 
ties of the same species will hardly interbreed 
at all; while some species interbreed most 
freely, and produce fully fertile offspring. So 
the supposed criterion fails in the only cases in 
•which it could be of service. All that can be 
said is, that whereas known varieties tend to 
interbreed with unimpaired and sometimes with 
increased fertility, distinct species of near re- 
semblance tend not to interbreed at all ; and 
between the two extremes there are all inter- 
mediate conditions. Here, as throughout or- 
ganic nature, the extremes are far apart ; the 
interval is filled with gradations. 

What then is the substantial difference be- 
tween varieties and species ? Just here is the 
turning-point between the former view and the 
present. The former doctrine was that varieties 
come about in the course of nature, but species 


not ; that varieties became what they are, but 
that species were originally made what they are. 
I suppose that, even before the day of Darwin- 
ism, most working naturalists were reaching the 
conviction that this distinction was untenable ; 
that the same rule was applicable to both ; and 
therefore that either varieties did not come in 
the course of nature, or that species did. 

Perfectly apprehending the alternative and 
its consequences, Agassiz took the ground that 
varieties as well as species were primordial, or 
rather that the more marked forms called va- 
rieties by most naturalists were species, and 
therefore original creations. Eightly to un- 
derstand his view, it must be taken along with 
his conception of species, as consisting from the 
very first of a multitude of individuals. 

Other naturalists were looking to the opposite 
alternative, and were coming to the conclusion 
that species as well as varieties were natural 
developments. In botany, this conclusion was 
reached more than sixty years ago, through 
observation and experiment, by an English 
clergyman and naturalist, Herbert, afterward 
Dean of Manchester. He announced his con- 
viction that "horticultural experiments have 
established, beyond the possibility of doubt, 


that botanical species are only a higher and 
more permanent class of varieties/' and, con- 
sequently, that the genus is the progenitor of 
the species belonging to it. Others have 
reached the same conclusion by more specula- 
tive routes, and have deduced the theoretical 
consequences. But no marked impression was 
made until the hypothesis of natural selec- 
tion, or the preservation of favored races 
in the struggle for life was promulgated, and 
supplied a scientific reason for the diversifica- 
tion of varieties into species. The principle 
brought to view is too obvious to have been 
wholly overlooked. It is interesting to notice 
that the earliest known anticipation of that 
principle which Darwin and Wallace developed 
almost simultaneously, was published sixty years 
ago, by Dr. Wells, the sagacious author of the 
theory of dew, who hit Upon the idea of natu- 
ral selection while resident in America. As 
abstracted by Mr. Darwin, who evidently takes 
delight in the discovery of these anticipations, 
the points which Dr. Wells made were substan- 
tially these : — 

All animals vary more or loss: agriculturists 
improve domesticated animals by selection. 
What is thus done by art is done with equal 


efficacy, though more slowly, by Nature, in 
the formation of varieties of mankind, fitted 
for the country which they inhabit, and in this 
way: Negroes and mulattoes enjoy immunity 
from certain tropical diseases, and white men a 
comparative immunity from those of cold cli- 
mates. Under the variation common to all 
animals, some of the darker would be better 
adapted than the rest to bear the diseases of a 
warm country, — say, of tropical Africa. This 
race would consequently multiply, while the 
others would decrease, directly, because the 
prevalent diseases would be more fatal to them, 
and indirectly, by inability to contend with 
their more vigorous neighbors. Through the 
continued operation of the same causes, darker 
and darker races would prevail over the less 
dark, and in time would monopolize the region 
where they originated or into which they had 
advanced. Similarly would white races, to 
the exclusion of dark, be developed and prevail 
in cooler regions. 

Now, this simple principle, — extended from 
races to species ; from the present to geological 
ages ; from man and domesticated animals to all 
animals and plants ; from struggle with disease 
to struggle for food, for room, and against the 


diverse hardships which at times beset all living 
things, and which are intensified by the Malthu- 
sian law of the pressure of population on sub- 
sistence, — population tending to multiply in 
geometrical progression, while food can increase 
only in a much lower ratio, and room may 
not be increasable at all, so that out of multi- 
tudinous progeny only the few fittest to the 
special circumstances in each generation can 
possibly survive and propagate, — this is Dar- 
winism ; that is, Darwinism pure and simple, free 
from all speculative accretions. 

Here, it may be remarked that natural selec- 
tion by itself is not an hypothesis, nor even a 
theory. It is a truth, — a catena of facts and 
direct inferences from facts. As has been hap- 
pily said, it is a truth of the same kind as that 
which we enunciate in saying that round stones 
will roll down a hill further than flat ones. 
There is no doubt that natural selection oper- 
ates ; the open question is, what do its opera- 
tions amount to. The hypothesis based on 
this principle is, that the struggle for life and 
survival of only the fittest among individu- 
als, all disposed to vary and no two exactly 
alike, will account for the diversification of 
the species and forms of vegetable and ani- 


mal life, — will even account for the rise, in the 
course of countless ages, from simpler and lower 
to higher and more specialized living beings. 

We need not here enter into any further ex- 
planation of this now familiar but not always 
well-understood hypothesis ; nor need I here 
pronounce any judgment of my own upon it. 
No doubt it may account for much which has 
not received other scientific explanation ; and 
Mr. Darwin is not the man to claim that it will 
account for every thing. But before we can 
judge at all of its capabilities, we need clearly 
to understand what is contained in the hypothe- 
sis ; for what can be got out of it, in the way of 
explanation, depends upon what has gone into 
it. So certain discriminations should here be 
attended to. 

Natural selection we understand to be a sort 
of personification or generalized expression for 
the processes and the results of the whole in- 
terplay of living things on the earth with their 
inorganic surroundings and with each other. 
The hypothesis asserts that these may account, 
not for the introduction of life, but for its di- 
versification into the forms and kinds which 
we now behold. This, I suppose, is tantamount 
to asserting that the differences between one 


species and another now existing, and between 
these and their predecessors, has come to pass in 
the course of Nature • that is, without miracle. 
In these days, all agree that a scientific inquiry 
whether this may be so — that is, whether there 
are probable grounds for believing it (no thought- 
ful person expects to prove it) — is perfectly 
legitimate ; and, so far as it becomes probable, I 
imagine that you might safely accept it. For the 
hypothesis, in its normal and simplest form, — 
when kept close to the facts, and free from ex- 
traneous assumptions — is merely this : — 

Given the observed capacity for variation as 
an inexhaustible factor, assuming that what has 
varied is still prone to vary (and there are 
grounds for the assumption), and natural selec- 
tion will — so to say — pick out for preservation 
the fittest forms for particular surroundings, 
lead on and diversify them, and, by continual 
elimination of the less fit, segregate the sur- 
vivors into distinct species. This, you see, as- 
sumes, and does not account for, the impulse to 
variation, assumes that variation is an inherent 
and universal capacity, and is the efficient cause 
of all the diversity ; while natural selection is 
the proximate cause of it. So it is the selection, 
not the creation of forms that is accounted for. 


Darwinism does not so much explain why we 
have the actual forms, as it does why we have 
only these and not all intermediate forms, — in 
short, why we have species. There is of course 
a cause for the variation. Nobody supposes 
that any thing changes without a cause j and 
there is no reason for thinking that proximate 
causes of variation may not come to be known ; 
but we hardly know the conditions, still less the 
causes now. The point I wish to make here is 
that natural selection — however you expand 
its meaning — cannot be invoked as the cause 
of that upon w T hich it operates, L e., variation. 
Otherwise, if by natural selection is meant the 
totality of all the known and unknown causes 
of whatever comes to pass in organic nature, 
then the term is no longer an allowable person- 
ification, but a sheer abstraction, which mean- 
ing every thing, can explain nothing. It is like 
saying that whatever happens is the cause of 
whatever comes to pass. 

We may conclude, therefore, that natural 
selection, in the sense of the originator of the 
term, and in the only congruous sense, stands 
for the influence of inorganic nature upon living 
things, along with the influence of these upon 
each other; and that what it purports to ac- 


count for is the picking out, from the multitude 
of incipient variations, of the few which are to 
survive, and which thereby acquire distinctness. 

There is a further assumption in the hypo- 
thesis which must not be overlooked ; namely, 
that the variation of plants and animals, out of 
which so much comes, is indefinite or all-direc- 
tioned and accidental. This, I would insist, is 
no fundamental part of the hypothesis of the 
derivation of species, and is clearly no part of 
the principle of natural selection. But it is an 
assumption which Mr. Darwin judges to be war- 
ranted by the facts, and in some of its elements 
it is unavoidable. Evidently if the innate ten- 
dency to vary upon which physical circum- 
stances operate is indefinite, then the variations 
which the circumstances elicit, and which could 
not otherwise amount to any thing, must be ac- 
cidental in the same sense as are the circum- 
stances themselves. Out of this would imme- 
diately rise the question as to what can be the 
foundation and beginning of this long and won- 
derful chapter of accidents which has produced 
and maintained, not only for this time but 
through all biological periods, an ever-varying 
yet ever well-adapted cosmos. 

But the facts, so far as I can judge, do not 


support the assumption of every-sided and in- 
different variation. Variation is somehow and 
somewhere introduced in the transit from parent 
to offspring. The actual variations displayed 
by the progeny of a particular plant or animal 
may differ much in grade, and tend in more 
than one direction, but in fact they do not ap- 
pear to tend in many directions. It is generally 
agreed that the variation is from within, is an 
internal response to external impressions. All 
that we can possibly know of the nature of the 
inherent tendency to vary must be gathered 
from the facts of the response. And these, I 
judge, are not such as to require or support the 
assumption of a tendency to wholly vague and 
all-directioned variation. 

Let us here correct a common impression 
that Darwinian evolution predicates actual or 
necessary variation of all existing species, and 
counts that the variation must be in some de- 
finite ratio to the time. That is not the idea, 
nor the fact. " Evolution is not a course of 
hap-hazard and incessant change, but a continu- 
ing re-adjustment, which may or may not, ac- 
cording to circumstances, involve considerable 
changes in a given time." Every form is in a 
relatively stable equilibrium, else it would not 


exist. Forms adjusted to their surroundings 
ought by the hypothesis to remain unchanged 
until the circumstances change. Only those of 
their variations could come to any thing which 
happened to be equally well adapted to the 
unchanged circumstances; and this may be 
what we have when two or more nearly re- 
lated species inhabit similar stations in the 
same area. 

From this point of view you see how wide 
of the mark are those who imagine that Dar- 
winian evolution supposes that the organic 
world was in early times, or at any time, out of 
joint or in ill relations to the surroundings. On 
the contrary, it is of the very nature of natural 
selection, that, while inducing changes eventu- 
ally immense, it should preserve throughout all 
time a condition of harmonious adaptation. Ca- 
tastrophes must destroy ; but gradual modifica- 
tion, under the long and silent struggle which 
never hastes and never rests, preserves while it 
renovates and diversifies the races. 

I ought here to state that there are eminent 
naturalists (one of them of your own university) 
who accept the doctrine of evolution, but who 
think little of natural selection as a modus oper- 
andi in the diversification of species ; and there 


are distinguished writers, not naturalists, who, 
from other points of view are ready to accept 
" the doctrine of the successive evolution from 
ancestral germs of higher and higher forms of 
life and mind/' % while they profess to have 
buried the principle of natural selection and 
with it the Malthusian theory of population in 
one common grave. These are evolutionists, in 
their way, because the probability of evolution- 
ary theories springs from the very various lines 
of facts, otherwise inexplicable, which they 
harmonize and explain: — in geology, the pre- 
vious existence of forms more and more like 
those now existing, and at length coalescing in 
them ; in geography, the actual distribution of 
species and genera over the earth's surface ; in 
systematic natural history, the reason why spe- 
cies and genera and orders are so variously 
related, are here connected by transitions and 
there separated by wide gaps; in morphology 
why the same functions may be assumed by 
different organs, or the same kind of organ may 
perform here one function and there another, 
or again exist as a vestige, of no service at all ; 
in anatomy and biology, the transition from one 
element of structure to another, the gradual 

* Bo wen in u The North American Keview," November, 1879. 


specialization of organs, and the remarkable co- 
incidence between the order of the development 
in the individual animal and that of the rise 
from low to high in the scale of being, and that 
of the successive appearance of the grades in 
time ; finally in psychology, the gradations be- 
tween beings endowed with rudimentary sensa- 
tion and beings endowed with mind. 

Here, where the " touch of Nature makes the 
whole world kin," we reach the sensitive point. 
Man, while on the one side a wholly exceptional 
being, is on the other an object of natural his- 
tory, — a part of the animal kingdom. If you 
agree with Quatrefages that man is a kingdom 
by himself, you must agree with him that this 
kingdom is solely intellectual ; that he is as cer- 
tainly and completely an animal as he is cer- 
tainly something more. We are sharers not 
only of animal but of vegetable life, sharers with 
the higher brute animals in common instincts 
and feelings and affections. It seems to me that 
there is a sort of meanness in the wish to ignore 
the tie. I fancy that human beings may be 
more humane when they realize that, as their 
dependent associates live a life in which man has 
a share, so they have rights which man is bound 
to respect. 


Man, in short, is a partaker of the natural as 
well as of the spiritual. And the evolutionist 
may say with the apostle : "Howbeit that was not 
first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, 
and afterward that which is spiritual." Man, 
" formed of the dust of the ground," endowed 
with "the breath of life," "became a living 
soul/' Is there any warrant for affirming that 
these processes were instantaneous ? 

As has just been intimated, the characteristic 
of that particular theory of evolution which is 
now in the ascendant is that, by taking advan- 
tage of " every creature's best " for bettering 
conditions, it has made strife work for good, 
throughout an immensely long line of adjust- 
ments and readjustments, in a series ascending 
as it advanced ; that it supposes a process, not 
from discord to harmony, but from simpler to 
fuller and richer harmonies, conserving through- 
out the best adaptations to the then existing 
conditions. So while its advocates nowhere 
contemplate a state 

" When Nature underneath a heap, 
Of jarring atoms lay, 
And could not heave her head," 

they may appropriate Dryden's closing lines, — 


" From harmony, from heavenly harmony, 
This universal frame began, 
From harmony to harmony 

Through all the compass of the notes it ran, 
The diapason closing full in man." 

I have now indicated, at more than sufficient 
length for one discourse, some of the principal 
recent changes and present tendencies in scien- 
tific belief, especially in biology. Even the most 
advanced of the views here presented are held 
by very many scientific men, — some as estab- 
lished truths, some as probable opinions. There 
is a class, moreover, by whom all these scientific 
theories ; and more, are held as ascertained facts, 
and as the basis of philosophical inferences which 
strike at the root of theistic beliefs. 

It remains to consider what attitude thought- 
ful men and Christian believers should take 
respecting them, and how they stand related to 
beliefs of another order. That will be the topic 
of a following lecture. 


f N a preceding discourse I brought to your 
notice a series of changes in view and 
opinion which have taken place among scien- 
tific men within my own remembrance. I 
restricted the survey to the biological sciences 
(with merely a reference to the principle of the 
conservation of energy in its application to the 
organic world), and in these to the supposed 
facts and immediate inferences, to what may be 
called their natural-historical interpretation. 

These new views are full of interest of a kind 
which you cannot expect a naturalist to under- 
value. For they have greatly exalted his call- 
ing. In the days of Linnaeus, who died only 
a hundred and two years ago, and throughout 
a long generation of his followers, species were 


looked upon as " simple curiosities of Nature/' 
to be inventoried and described ; and striking 
phenomena in plants and animals, as something 
to be wondered at, but not to be explained. 
With the advent of Morphology, the precursor 
and parent of Evolution, Natural History devel- 
oped from a curious pursuit, training the observ- 
ing powers, to that of a true science, engaging 
the reason in the search for causes. According 
to one definition, " Science is the labor of mind 
applied to Nature. " In this sense, modern bot- 
any and zoology have certainly become scien- 
tific. They are at least attempting great labors. 
But in widely extending, as they now do, the 
operation of natural causes in the organic world, 
they make close connections between biology 
and physics, or what used to be called, and I 
think deserves to be called, natural philoso- 
phy. And the connection brings in, or brings 
up afresh, considerations which affect the ground 
of natural and revealed religion. Under this 
aspect, they properly excite your anxious atten- 

I used throughout the phrase u scientific be- 
lief," as the one best suited to the occasion. 
The term is comprehensive and elastic, cover- 
ing many degrees of conviction or assent, from 


moral certainty down to probable opinion. In 
this respect, scientific and theological beliefs are 
similar ; as they also are in being mainly states 
of mind toward that which is incapable of dem- 
onstration, — either because, as in the case of 
ultimate beliefs (on which all science and knowl- 
edge are based) it is impossible to go beyond 
them, or else because the subject-matter is not 
positively known, and certainty is unattainable 
from the nature or the present conditions of the 
case. The proofs upon which both biological 
and theological investigations have to rely are 
largely probabilities, some of a higher, some 
of a lower order, and much that is accepted for 
the time is taken on trial or on prima facie evi- 
dence. Much also is or should be held under 
suspense of judgment, a state of mind emi- 
nently favorable to accurate investigation. As 
to those who can forthwith assort the contents 
of their minds into two compartments, one for 
what they believe and the other for what they 
disbelieve, neither their belief nor their denial 
can be of much account. In all subjects of 
inquiry, those only are to be trusted who dis- 
criminate between inevitable beliefs, established 
convictions, probable opinions, and hypotheses 
on trial. 


Now, our general inquiry in this lecture is. 
What should be the attitude, I will not say of 
theological students, but of thoughtful men, 
in respect to scientific beliefs, tendencies, and 
anticipations, such as we have been consid- 
ering ? 

To a certain extent it may well be a waiting 
attitude. The strictly scientific matters must 
necessarily be left mainly to the experts, whose 
very various and independent investigations, 
pursued under every diversity of bias, must in 
time reach reasonably satisfactory conclusions. 
But the naturalists claim no monopoly in the 
consideration of the great problems which now 
interest us, in which indeed most of them de- 
cline to take any part. Perhaps theological 
students and divines might be asked to wait 
until views and hypotheses still ardently con- 
troverted among; scientific investigators are 
brought nearer to a settlement. But the dis- 
position to discount expected results, either for 
or against supernatural religion, has always pre- 
vailed. The theologians at least have never 
waited, and cannot be expected to wait; and 
while some of their contributions to the subject 
have been inconsiderate, others have been most 


In any case, there is no call to wait on the 
ground that the disturbing views are only 
hypotheses. For, in the first place, we should 
have long to wait for demonstration one way or 
the other ; and one crop of hypotheses is the 
fertile seed of another. Besides, hypothesis is 
the proper instrument for dealing with this class 
of questions ; indeed, it is the essential precursor 
of every fruitful investigation in physical na- 
ture. You can seldom sound with the plum- 
met while standing on the shore. To do this 
to any purpose, you must launch out on the sea, 
and brave some risks. Nearly all valuable re- 
sults have been gained in this way. Newton's 
theory of gravitation was a typical hypothesis, 
and one which happened to be capable of early 
and sufficient verification. The undulatory the- 
ory of light was another. The nebular hypoth- 
esis, or portions of it, and the kinetic theory 
of gases, less verifiable, are accepted willingly 
because of the success with which they explain 
the facts. Evolution is a more complex, loose, 
and less provable hypothesis, or congeries of 
hypotheses, which can at most have only a rela- 
tive, though perhaps continually increasing prob- 
ability from its power of explaining a great 
variety of facts. Its strength appears on com- 


paring it with the rival hypothesis — for such 
it is — of immediate creation, which neither ex- 
plains nor pretends to explain any. 

How the more exact physical sciences are 
becoming more reconditely hypothetical, espe- 
cially in the imagination of entities of which 
there can be no possible proof beyond their 
serviceability in explaining phenomena, we 
must not stop to consider. Only this may be 
said, that the adage, " Where faith begins sci- 
ence ends " is now well nigh inverted. For 
faith, in a just sense of the word, assumes as 
prominent a place in science as in religion. It 
is indispensable to both. 

Let it be noted, moreover, that the case we 
have to consider does not come before the tri- 
bunal of reason with antecedent presumptions 
all on one side, as theologians generally suppose. 
They say to the naturalists, not improperly, we 
will think about adopting your conclusions, 
contrary as they are to all our prepossessions, 
when they are thoroughly and irrevocably sub- 
stantiated, and not till then. Your theory may 
prove true, but it seems vastly improbable. 
Here the naturalist is ready with a rejoinder: 
In this world of law you cannot expect us to 
adopt your assumption of specific creations by 


miraculous intervention with the course of Na- 
ture, not once for all at a beginning, but over 
and over in time. We will accept intervention 
only when and where you can convincingly es- 
tablish it, and where we are unable to explain 
it away, as in the case of absolute beginning. 
If the naturalist starts with the presumption 
against him when he broaches the theory of the 
descent of later from preceding forms in the 
course of Nature, so no less does the theologian 
when in a world governed by law he asserts a 
break in the continuity of natural cause and 

But, indeed, you are not so much .concerned 
to know whether evolutionary theories are 
actually well-founded or ill-founded, as you 
are to know whether if true, or if received as 
true, they would impair the foundations of re- 
ligion. And, surely, if views of Nature which 
are incompatible with theism and with Christi- 
anity can be established, or can be made as 
tenable as the contrary, it is quite time that we 
knew it. If, on the other hand, all real facts 
and necessary inferences from them can be ad- 
justed to our grounded religious convictions, as 
well as other ascertained facts have been ad- 
justed, it may relieve many to be assured of it. 


The best contribution that I can offer towards 
the settlement of these mooted questions may 
be the statement and explanation of my own 
attitude in this regard, and of the reasons which 
determine it. 

I accept substantially, as facts, or as appar- 
ently well-grounded inferences, or as fairly 
probable opinions, — according to their nature 
and degree, — the principal series of changed 
views which I brought before you in the pre- 
ceding lecture. I have no particular predilec- 
tion for any of them ; and I have no particular 
dread of any of the consequences which legiti- 
mately flow from them, beyond the general awe 
and sense of total insufficiency with which a 
mortal man contemplates the mysteries which 
shut him in on every side. I claim, moreover, 
not merely allowance, but the right to hold 
these opinions along with the doctrines of natu- 
ral religion and the verities of the Christian 
faith. There are perplexities enough to bewil- 
der our souls whenever and wherever we look 
for the causes and reasons of things ; but I am 
unable to perceive that the idea of the evolu- 
tion of one species from another, and of all from 
an initial form of life, adds any new perplexity 
to theism. 


In unfolding my thoughts upon the subject, 
I wish to keep as close " to the solid ground of 
Nature " as I possibly can, even where the dis- 
course must rise from the ground of science into 
the finer air of philosophy. Specially I must 
heed the injunction : " If thou hast any tidings, 
prithee, deliver them like a man of this world," 
and not trouble myself, nor you, with meta- 
physical refinements and distinctions which, 
however needful in their way and place, are 
unnecessary to our purpose. I take for granted, 
"like a man of this world," the objective reality 
and substantiality of what we see and deal 
with, though I am told it cannot be proved ; 
and I assume, — although demonstration is 
impossible, — that what I and my fellow-men 
cannot help believing we ought to believe, or 
at least must rest content with. I suppose you 
will agree with me that it is not science, at least 
not natural science, which raises the most for- 
midable difficulties to Christian theism, but 
philosophy, and that it is for philosophy to sur- 
mount them. 

The question which science asks of all it 
meets is, What is the system and course of 
things, and how is this or that a part of it in 
the fixed sequence of cause and effect? Philos- 



ophy asks whence the system itself, and what 
are causes and effects. Theology is partly his- 
torical science, and partly philosophy. Now I, 
as a scientific man, might rest in the probability 
of evolution as a general inference from the 
facts or a good hypothesis, and relegate the 
questions you would ask to the philosophers 
and theologians. But I am not one of those 
who think that scientific men should not con- 
cern themselves with such matters ; and having 
gone so far as to say that the evolution which I 
accept does not seem to me to add any new 
perplexity to theism, and well knowing that 
others are of a contrary opinion, I am bound to 
further explanation and argument 

But I have not the presumption to suppose 
that I can make any new contribution to this 
discussion ; and what I may suggest must not 
be expected to cover the ground widely nor 
penetrate it deeply. I am sure that you will 
not look to me for the rehandling of insoluble 
problems and inevitable contradictions, into 
which the philosophical consideration of the 
relations of Nature and man to God ultimately 
lands us. Certainly they are not peculiar to 
evolution. So, in so far as Ave may fairly refer 
any of its perplexities to old antinomies, which 


can neither be reconciled nor evaded, the bur- 
den will be off our shoulders. It might suffice 
to show that evolution need raise no other nor 
greater religious or philosophical difficulties 
than the views which have already been ac- 
cepted, and held to be not inimical to religion. 

But, indeed, our universal concession that 
Nature is, and that it is a system of fixed laws 
and uniformities, under which every thing we 
see and know in the inorganic universe, and 
very much in the organic world, have come to 
be as they are, in unbroken sequence, implicitly 
gives away the principle of all ordinary objec- 
tion to the evolution of living as well as of life- 
less forms, of species as well as of individuals. 
It leaves the matter simply as one of fact and 
evidence. Indeed, mediate creation is just 
what the thoughtful and thorough observer of 
the ways of God in Nature would expect, and 
is what some of the most illustrious of the phi- 
losophic saints and fathers of the church have 
more or less believed in. 

In saying that the doctrine of the evolution 
of species has taken its place among scientific 
beliefs, I do not mean that it is accepted by 
all living naturalists; for there are some who 
wholly reject it. Nor that it is held with equal 


conviction and in the same way by all who re- 
ceive it ; for some teach it dogmatically, along 
with assumptions, both scientific and philosoph- 
ical, which are to us both unwarranted and 
unwelcome ; more accept it, with various confi- 
dence, and in a tentative way, for its purely 
scientific uses, and without any obvious refer- 
ence to its ultimate outcome ; and some, look- 
ing to its probable prevalence, are adjusting 
their conditional belief in it to cherished beliefs 
of another order. One thing is clear, that the 
current is all running one way, and seems 
unlikely to run dry; and that evolutionary 
doctrines are profoundly affecting all natural 

Here you remark that your objection is not 
so much to the idea of mediate creation as to 
the form it has assumed ; that the mediate pro- 
duction of species may indeed be completely 
theistic. But that, whereas their immediate 
creation directly asserts Divine action, their in- 
coming under Nature only implies it. To those 
who already believe in a Supreme Being the 
two views may religiously amount to the same 
thing. But, you continue, living beings were 
thought to afford a kind of demonstration of a 
supernatural creator. Science, in taking this 


away, leaves us only the assurance that if we 
bring the idea of God to Nature we may find 
Nature wholly compatible with that idea. Well, 
what is lost in directness may perhaps be gained 
in breadth and depth. It is certain that the 
whole progress of physical science tends, in 
respect to Divine action, to consider that me- 
diate, general, and in a sense indirect, which 
had been thought to be immediate and special. 
Youth is ever taught by instances, manhood by 

You go on to say : The evolution of species 
now so commended to us by science, not long 
ago seemed as improbable to scientific as to or- 
dinary minds. What assurance can we unscien- 
tific people have that science will not reverse 
its present judgments ? None, perhaps, except 
that, while many particular judgments have 
been reversed or altered, the general course of 
thought has run in one direction. And theolo- 
gians, like naturalists, must be content with the 
best judgments they can form upon the present 
showing, and be ready to modify them upon 

Finally, and to reach the present point, you 
pertinently commend to scientific men their 
own saying : " Science asks of every thing how 


it is a part of the system of Nature, of the chain 
of cause and effect." An hypothesis must give 
the how and why, and from its own resources, 
before it is worth attending to. A credible hy- 
pothesis should assign real and known causes, 
and ascertain their actual operation somewhere 
before assuming their operation everywhere. A 
complete hypothesis should assign not only real 
but sufficient causes for all the effects ; and 
when it assumes them in invisible and intangi- 
ble forms, such as molecules and molecular 
movements, it is bound to show that all the ob- 
served consequences flow from the assumption. 
Now to declare that species come through evo- 
lution, without either proving it by facts or 
clearly conceiving the mode and manner how, 
is only supporting a thesis which was until lately 
deemed scientifically improbable by hypotheses 
of a kind which have always been regarded as 

Just here Darwinism comes in with a modus 
operandi, in which lies all its essential value. As 
the conception of the derivation of one form 
from another is the only distinctly-pointed alter- 
native to specific supernatural creation, so the 
principle of natural selection, taken in its fullest 
sense, is the only one known to me which can 


be termed a real cause in the scientific sense 
of the term. Other modern hypotheses assign 
metaphysical, vague, or verbal causes, such 
as development, anticipation, laws of molecular 
constitution, without indicating what the special 
constitution is, — none of which have much 
advantage over the " nisus formativas" of earlier 

I have no time to recapitulate what I briefly 
said of natural selection in a former lecture ; nor 
to analyze the applications of the principle by 
Darwin, Wallace, and others to critical instances ; 
nor to specify its limitations and apparent fail- 
ures. The discussion or even the presentation 
of these would fill the hour, and divert me from 
my particular task. Instead of this, I will merely 
give my impression of the present state of the 
case as respects the points now before us. 

You will remember the distinction which I 
pointed out between the principle of natural se- 
lection, which I take to be a true one, and the 
Darwinian hypothesis founded on it, which I take 
to be to a considerable extent probable. That 
is, I think that the influences and actions which 
the term " natural selection " stands for, give a 
sufficient scientific explanation of the way in 
which smaller differences among plants and 


animals may rise into greater, varieties into 
species. Given differences and an internal ten- 
dency to differ more, i.e., given variation as an 
inexhaustible factor, and natural selection should 
suffice for the preservation and increase of the 
select few as a consequence of the destruction 
of the intermediate many. Surely there is 
nothing either improbable or irreligious in the 
idea that lines of individuals or races, once in 
existence, should be subject to the conditions 
of Nature, and that the fittest for particular 
conditions should thereby be preserved. As to 
variation, that really occurs as a fact, though we 
know not how ; and, if we frame explanations 
of the mode and get conceptions of the causes 
of the variation of living things, still we proba- 
bly shall never be able to carry our knowledge 
very much farther back ; for in each variation 
lies hidden the mystery of a beginning. We cannot 
tell why offspring should be like unto parent ; 
how then should we know why it should some- 
times be different ? 

So then Darwinism has real causes at its foun- 
dation, viz., the fact of variation and the inevi- 
table operation of natural selection, determining 
the survival only of the fittest forms for the 
time and place. It is therefore a good h vpothe- 


sis, so far. But is it a sufficient and a complete 
hypothesis ? Does it furnish scientific explana- 
tion of (i.e., assign natural causes for) the rise 
of living forms from low to high, from simple to 
complex, from protoplasm to simple plant and 
animal, from fish to flesh, from lower animal to 
higher animal, from brute to man? Does it 
scientifically account for the formation of any 
organ, show that under given conditions sensi- 
tive eye-spot, initial hand or brain, or even a 
different hue or texture, must then and there 
be developed as the consequence of assignable 
conditions? Does it explain how and why so 
much, or any, sensitiveness, faculty of response 
by movement, perception, consciousness, intel- 
lect, is correlated with such and such an organ- 
ism? I answer, Not at all! The hypothesis 
does none of these things. For my own part I 
can hardly conceive that any one should think 
that natural selection scientifically accounts for 
these phenomena. 

Let us here discriminate. To account scien- 
tifically for phenomena, or for complex series 
of phenomena, by assigning real and sufficient 
natural causes, is one thing. To believe that 
the phenomena have occurred in the course 
of nature, and have natural causal connection, 


is another. It is not natural selection which 
has led Mr. Darwin and many others to believe 
that life was " originally breathed by the Creator 
into a few forms or into one," and " that the 
production and extinction of the past and pres- 
ent inhabitants of the world has been due to 
secondary causes ; " but it is the observed fact of 
likenesses and that of gradation from form to 
form which suggested the idea of an actual 
evolution from form to form having somehow 
taken place. Variation and natural selection are 
now assigned as causes or reasons of the evolu- 
tion. Variation originates all the differences. 
Natural selection, determining which forms shall 
survive, reduces their number and intensifies 
their character. But Darwin may likewise 
consistently speak of his favorite principle as 
a cause of the evolution, it being that in the 
absence of which the evolution could not take 
effect. A cause of variation it certainly is not, 
but it is a necessary occasion of it, or of its 
progress. Because without natural selection to 
pave the way, the wheels of variation would 
at once be clogged and all progress be ar- 
rested. Variation provides that upon which 
natural selection operates ; the operation of 
natural selection makes room for further varia- 


tion, gives opportunity for variability to change 
its fashions and display its novelties ; and so 
the two go on, hand in hand. But, although 
thus conjoined, there is always this difference 
between the two, that natural selection works 
externally, with known natural agencies, and in 
the light of common day ; variation works in- 
ternally, in darkness, and its agencies and ways 
are recondite and past finding out. Or, when 
we find out something, — as we may hope to 
do, — we only resolve a before unexplained 
phenomenon into two factors, one of them a now 
ascertained natural process, the other a some- 
thing which still eludes our search. But we 
suppose it to be natural, although as yet un- 
known. Surely we are not to suppose that nat- 
ural agencies cease just where we fail to make 
them out. 

To proceed: what Darwinism maintains is 
that variation, which is the origination of small 
differences, and species-production, which repre- 
sents somewhat larger differences, and genus- 
production, which represents still greater 
differences, are parts of a series and differ 
only in degree, and therefore have common 
natural causes whatever these may be ; and 
that natural selection gives a clear conception 


of a way in which continually or occasionally 
arising small differences may be added up into 
large sums in the course of time. This is a 
legitimate and on the whole a good working 
hypothesis. The questionable point is whether 
the sum of the differences can be obtained from 
the individually small variations by simple addi- 
tion. I very much doubt it. I doubt especially 
if simple addition is capable of congruously 
adding up such different denominations. That 
is, while I see how variations of a given organ 
or structure can be led on to great modification, 
I cannot conceive how non-existent organs come 
thus to be, how wholly new parts are initiated, 
how any thing can be led on which is not there 
to be taken hold of. Nor am I at all helped in 
this respect by being shown that the new organs 
are developed little by little. 

The doubt is not whether the organs and 
forms were actually evolved in the course of 
Nature. I agree with Darwin that they prob- 
ably were, and if so then doubtless under nat- 
ural selection. And I cannot help thinking that 
Darwin would agree with me that the principle 
of natural selection does not account for it. That 
is. wo both account for it all, only by assuming 
; an inexplicable fact that variation does occur 


to the whole extent of the extreme differences. 
All appears to have come to pass in the course 
of Nature, and therefore under second causes; 
but what these are, or how connected and inter- 
fused with first cause, we know not now, per- 
haps shall never know. 

Now views like these, when formulated by 
religious instead of scientific thought, make 
more of Divine providence and fore-ordination 
than of Divine intervention ; but perhaps they 
are not the less theistical on that account. Nor 
are they incompatible with "special creative 
act," unless natural process generally is incom- 
patible with it, — which no theist can allow. 
No Christian theist can eliminate the idea of 
Divine intervention any more than he can that 
of Divine ordination ; neither, on the other 
hand, can he agree that what science removes 
from the supernatural to the natural is lost to 
theism. But, the business of science is with the 
course of Nature, not with interruptions of it, 
which must rest on their own special evidence. 
Still more, it is the business of science to ques- 
tion searchingly all seeming interruptions of it, 
and its privilege, to refer events and phenomena 
not at the first but in the last resort to Divine 


Moreover, " special creative act " is not ex- 
cluded by evolutionists on scientific ground, is 
not excluded at all on principle, except by those 
who adopt a philosophy which antecedently 
rules out all possibility of it. Darwin postu- 
lates one creative act and a probability of more, 
and so in principle is at one with Wallace and 
with Dana, who insist on more. 

But H hM „ee n ■*£ Meed h -«. 

and over, even by thoughtful men, that, al- 
though Darwinism is not necessarily atheistic, 
yet, when once started it dispenses with further 
need of God. " Given [it is said] the laws 
which we find, then there is no more use for 
God, and all things have come out as we find 
them with none of his supervision. There may 
have been — we do not know — a God once ; 
but law and not God, is the great Creator." A 
few words should dispose of this. First, by 
what right is it assumed that the Darwinian 
differs from the orthodox conception of law? 
In the next place, this line of argument applies 
equally to a series of creative acts separated by 
intervals, during which it could with the same 
reason (or unreason) be said that there is no 
use for God, that there may have been a God at 


times ! So it cuts away the ground from under 
the Christian evolution which the writer quoted 
from allows, as well as from that which he 
deprecates. And it equally dispenses with use 
for God in Nature for the several thousand years 
which have passed since creation under the 
biblical view was finished, and the Creator 
" rested from all the work which he had made." 
There is no more validity in the argument in 
the one case than in the others. 

A word or two upon the subject of creative 
acts occurring in time may not be out of place. 
These, when spoken of in the present connec- 
tion, do not usually refer to the making of a 
new form of plant or animal instanter out of the 
dust of the ground. However it might have 
been when there was only one act of creation 
to think of, the enormous crudeness of such a 
conception when applied to a long succession of 
animals would now be seriously felt by every 
one. It is a phrase most used by those who 
accept the idea of the evolution of one species 
from another, but who feel the utter incom- 
petence of known natural causes to account for 
it. In the absence of such causes, they, being 
theists, naturally (and I cannot say unphilo- 
sophically) assign the simpler and seemingly 


easier part of evolution to recondite natural 
causes which they are unable to specify, the 
more difficult or inscrutable to a diviner and 
more direct or supernatural act, which they 
liken to creation. I suppose they do not feel 
the necessity, as they have not the ability, to 
draw any definite line between what they think 
mere Nature may accomplish, and what they 
believe she cannot. Probably what they have 
in mind is mediate creation and not miracle. 
Perhaps they are convinced that if they could 
behold the birth of a species, they would see 
nothing more miraculous than in the birth of 
an individual. They mean that the springs of 
Nature are somehow touched by a new form or 
instance of force directed to some new end. 
Yet so they must be in a degree in the origi- 
nation of a new race or variety. This whole 
conception of mediate creation is logically car- 
ried out to its extreme by my philosophical col- 
league, Professor Bowen, when he concludes 
that u not only every new species but that each 
individual living organism, originated in a 
special act of creation. " * 

So the difference between pure Darwinism 

* North American Review for November, 1870, p. 463. 


and a more theistically expressed evolution is 
not so great as it seemed. Both agree in the 
opinion that species are evolved from species, 
and that evolution somehow occurs in the course 
of Nature. Darwinism opines that the whole 
is a natural result of general causes such as we 
know of and in a degree understand, such as 
we recognize under the concrete terms of va- 
riability, heredity, and the like, — terms which 
we can estimate and limit only by reference to 
what we see coming to pass, — along with com- 
plex physical interactions which are more meas- 
urable and predictable. The very much that 
it has not accounted for by these causes and 
processes, it assumes may be in time accounted 
for by them, or by as yet unrecognized general 
causes like them. The specially theistic evolu- 
tion referred to judges that these general causes 
cannot account for the whole work, and that the 
unknown causes are of a more special character 
and higher order. I think it does not declare 
that these are not secondary causes, and whether 
they would be ranked as natural causes would 
depend upon the sense in which the term Nature 
was at the moment used. Probably such evo- 
lutionists, if they had to give form to their con- 
ceptions, would vary in all degrees between 


the direct interposition of a supernatural hand 
at certain stages or crises, and that extreme 
extension of the Supernatural into and through 
the Natural which Professor Bowen reaches 
in the assertion that each individual living 
organism, as well as every new species, origi- 
nated in a special act of creation. This, the 
complete assimilation of specific to individual 
origination, is simply Darwinism, expressed 
in less appropriate language. What the one 
calls u special act " the other, along with the 
rest of mankind, calls general process. The 
common principle of the Divine ordination of 
Nature, which the philosopher here asserts in a 
paradoxical way, the Darwinian implies, or even 
postulates, on appropriate occasions. The Dar- 
winian Naturalist, I mean, not the monistic and 
agnostic philosopher, — from whom, so far, we 
have kept as clear as has Mr. Darwin in every 
volume and every line. 

Suppose now that we are shut up to Nature 
for the evolution of the forms of living things. 
As theists, we are not debarred from the sup- 
position of supernatural origination, mediate or 
immediate. But suppose the facts suggest and 
inferentially warrant the conclusion that the 


course of natural history has been along an 
unbroken line ; that — account for it or not — 
the origination of the kinds of plants and ani- 
mals comes to stand on the same footing as the 
rest of Nature. As this is the complete outcome 
of Darwinian evolution, it has to be met and 

The inquiry, what attitude should we, Chris- 
tian theists, present to this form of scientific 
belief, should not be a difficult one to answer. 
In my opinion, we should not denounce it as 
atheistical, or as practical atheism, or as absurd. 
Although, from the nature of the case, this con- 
ception can never be demonstrated, it can be 
believed, and is coming to be largely believed ; 
and it falls in very well with doctrine said to 
have been taught by philosophers and saints, 
by Leibnitz and Malebranche, Thomas Aquinas, 
and Augustine. So it may possibly even share 
in the commendation, bestowed by the Pope, in a 
recent sensible if not infallible allocution, upon 
the teaching of " the Angelic Doctor," and 
make a part of that genuine philosophy which 
the Pope declares to stand in no real opposition 
to religious truth. Seriously it would be rash 
and wrong for us to declare that this conception 
is opposed to theism. Our idea of Nature is 


that of an ordered and fixed system of forms 
and means working to ultimate ends. If this is 
our idea of inorganic nature, shall we abandon 
or depreciate it when we pass from mere things 
to organisms, to creatures which are themselves 
both means and ends ? Surely it would be sui- 
cidal to do so. We may, and indeed we do, 
question gravely whether all this work is com- 
mitted to Nature ; but we all agree that much 
is so done, far more than was formerly thought 
possible ; we cannot pretend to draw the line 
between what may be and what may not be so 
done, or what is and what is not so done ; and 
so it is not for us to object to the further ex- 
tension of the principle on sufficient evidence. 

I trust it is not necessary to press this consid- 
eration, though it is needful to present it, in 
order to warn Christian theists from the folly 
of playing into their adversary's hand, as is too 
often done. 

But I am aware that we have not yet reached 
the root of the difficulty. We are convinced 
theists. We bring our theism to the interpre- 
tation of Nature, and Nature responds like an 
echo to our thought. Not always unequivo- 
cally : broken, confused, and even contradictory 
sounds are sometimes given back to us ; yet as 


we listen to and ponder them, they mainly har- 
monize with our inner idea, and give us reason- 
able assurance that the God of our religion is 
the author of Nature. But what of those — 
you will say — who are not already convinced 
of His existence ? We thought that we had an 
independent demonstration of His existence, 
and that we could go out into the highways of 
unbelief and " compel them to come in ; " that 
" the invisible things of Him from the creation 
of the world were clearly seen, being under- 
stood by the things that are made," " so that 
they are without excuse." We could shut them 
up to the strict alternative of Divinity or 
Chance, with the odds incalculably against 
Chance. But now Darwinism has given them 
an excuse and placed us on the defensive. Now 
we have as much as we can do, and some think 
more, to reshape the argument in such wise as 
to harmonize our ineradicable belief in design 
with the fundamental scientific belief of conti- 
nuity in nature, now extended to organic as 
well as inorganic forms, to living beings as well 
as inanimate things. The field which we took 
to be thickly sown with design seems, under 
the light of Darwinism, to yield only a crop 
of accidents. Where we thought to reap the 
golden grain, we find only tares. 


The outlook is certainly serious, yet not alto- 
gether disheartening. Perhaps we cannot now 
safely separate the wheat from the tares, but 
must let them grow together unto the harvest. 
Nobody expects in this world to ascertain the 
limits between design and contingency. Nobody 
expects to demonstrate any design, except his 
own to himself by consciousness ; he cannot 
really prove his own to his bosom friend ; 
though his assertion may give his friend, and 
his actions may give his enemy, convincing 
reasons for inferring it. But we are sure that 
every intellectual being has designs, that the 
reach and pervasiveness of design must be in 
proportion to the wisdom ; and that the designs 
of the Author of Nature, if any there be, must 
be all-pervading and fathomless. Yet if they 
be wrought into a system of adaptations, some 
of the adaptations themselves may be such as 
irresistibly to suggest their reason to our minds. 
At least they suggest reason, even if we fail to 
apprehend, or wrongly apprehend, the reason. 
The sense that there is reason why is as innate in 
man, as that there is cause whereby. 

Now, to adopt the apt words of Francis New- 
man,* " after stripping off all that goes beyond 

* In Contemporary Review, 1S78, p. 445, &c. 


the mark of sober and cautious thought, there 
remain in this world fitnesses innumerable on 
the largest and the smallest scale , in which 
alike common sense and uncommon sense see 
design, and the only mode of evading this be- 
lief is by carrying out the cumbrous Epicurean 
argument to a length of which Epicurus could 
not dream. We cannot prove, we are told, that 
the eye was intended to see, or the hand to 
grasp, or the fingers to work delicately. Of 
course we cannot. But what is the alternative ? 
To believe that it came about by blind chance. 
No science has any calculus or apparatus to 
decide between the two theories. Common 
sense, not science, has to decide, and the most 
accomplished physical student has in the deci- 
sion no advantage whatever over a simple but 
thoughtful man." 

Arrangements innumerable, extending through 
all nature, subserving all ends, of course involve 
innumerable contingencies. The theist is not 
expected to have any definite idea of the re- 
spective limits of these. He can only guess at 
the limits of intention and contingency in the 
actions of his nearest neighbor. The non-theist 
gains nothing by eliminating instances, unless 
he can eliminate all design from the system. 


Until he does this, he gains nothing by showing 
that particular fitnesses come to pass little by 
little, and under natural causes. He cannot 
point to a time where there were no fitnesses, 
apparent or latent, and if he argues that all 
fitnesses were germinal in the nebulous matter 
of our solar system, he does not harm our case. 
The throwing of design ever so far back in time 
does not harm it, nor deprive it of its ever- 
present and ever-efficient character. For, as 
has been acutely said, " If design has once 
operated in remm natura (as in the production 
of a first life-germ), how can it stop operating 
and undesigned formation succeed it? It can- 
not, and intention in Nature having once ex- 
isted, the test of the amount of that intention 
is not the commencement but the end, not the 
first low organism, but the climax and consum- 
mation of the whole." # 

I am not going to re-argue an old thesis of 
my own that Darwinism does not weaken the 
substantial ground of the argument, as between 
theism and non-theism, for design in Nature.! 

* Mozley, Essays, ii. 112. See also Lord Blachford in The 
Nineteenth Century, June, 1870, p. 1085. 

\ Darwinians: 1 n<l Reviews pertaining to Darwin- 

ism. New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1870. 


I think it brought in no new difficulty, though 
it brought old ones into prominence. It must 
be reasonably clear to all who have taken pains 
to understand the matter that the true issue as 
regards design is not between Darwinism and 
direct Creationism, but between design and 
fortuity, between any intention or intellectual 
cause and no intention nor predicable first 
cause. It is really narrowed down to this, and 
on this line all maintainers of the affirmative 
may present an unbroken front. The holding 
of this line secures all ; the weakening of it 
in the attempted defence of unessential and; 
now untenable outposts endangers all. 

I have only to add a few observations and 
exhortations addressed to Christian theists. 

If intention must pervade every theistic sys- 
tem of Nature, if we give credit to Mr. Darwin 
when in this regard he likens his divergence 
from the orthodox view to the difference be- 
tween general and particular Providence, is it 
safe to declare that his theory, and his denial 
that particular forms were specially created, 
are practically atheistical? I might complain 
of this as unfair : it is more to my purpose to 
complain of it as suicidal. It is in effect hold- 
ing a theistic conception of Nature for our pri- 


vate use, but acting on the opposite when we 
would discredit an unwelcome theory. Or else 
it is trusting so little to our own belief that we 
abandon it as soon as any weight is laid upon 
it. As soon as you do this, by conceding that 
the evolution of forms under natural laws mili- 
tates against design in Nature, you are at the 
mercy of those reasoners, who, looking at the 
probabilities of the case from their own point 
of view, coolly remark that : — 

" On the whole, therefore, we seem entitled 
to conclude that, during such time as we have 
evidence of, no intelligence or volition has been 
concerned in events happening within the range 
of the solar system, except that of animals liv- 
ing on the planets." * 

You may say that implicit belief of intention 
in Nature affords an insufficient foundation for 
theism. But you are not asked to ground your 
theism upon it, nor upon the whole world of 
external phenomena. 

You may reiterate that you cannot believe 
that all these events have occurred under 
natural laws. Nothing .hinders your assuming 
what you need from the supernatural ; but 

* Clifford, Sunday Lectures, quoted in The Spectator. 


allow that the need of other minds may not be 
identical with yours. 

As I have said before, what you want is, not 
a system which may be adjusted to theism, nor 
even one which finds its most reasonable inter- 
pretation in theism, but one which theism only 
can account for. That, it seems to me, you 
have. An excellent judge, a gifted adept in 
physical science and exact reasoning, the late 
Clerk-Maxwell, is reported to have said, not 
long before he left the world, that he had scru- 
tinized all the agnostic hypotheses he knew of, 
and found that they one and all needed a God 
to make them workable. 

When you ask for more than this, namely, 
for that which will compel belief in a personal 
Divine Being, you ask for that which He has 
not been pleased to provide. Experience proves 
that the opposite hypothesis is possible. Some 
rest in it, but few I think on scientific grounds. 
The affirmative hypothesis gives us a workable 
conception of how "the world of forms and 
means" is related to "the world of worths and 
ends." The negative hypothesis gives no men- 
tal or ethical satisfaction whatever. Like the 
theory of the immediate creation of forms, it 
explains nothing. 


You inquire, whither are we to look for inde- 
pendent evidence of mind and will " concerned 
in natural events happening within the range 
of the solar system." Certainly not to the court 
of pure physical science. For that has ruled this 
case out of its jurisdiction by assuming a fixed 
dependence of consequent upon antecedent 
throughout its domain. There are plenty of 
phenomena to which it cannot assign known 
causal antecedents; but it supplies their place 
at once, either by assuming that there is a phys- 
ical antecedent still unguessed, or by inventing 
one in an hypothesis. It deals in effects and 
causes, and knows nothing of ends. It has no 
verdict to render against our case, for it does 
not entertain it, and has no jurisdiction under 
which to try it. But its wiser judges do not 
insist that theirs is the only court in the realm. 

We have not to go beyond Nature for a 
jurisdiction, which may be likened to that of 
Equity, since it enforces specific performance, 
and which adds to causes and effects the consid- 
eration of ends. Biology takes cognizance of the 
former, like physics, of which it is on one side a 
part, but also of ends ; and here ends (which 
mean intention) become a legitimate scientific 
study. The natural history of ends becomes 


consistent and reasonably intelligible under the 
light of evolution. As the forms and kinds rise 
gradually out of that which was well-nigh form- 
less into a consummate form, so do biological 
ends rise and assert themselves in increasing 
distinctness, variety, and dignity. Vegetables 
and animals have paved the earth with inten- 
tions. The study and the estimate of these is 
quite tha same, under whatever view of the 
mode in which the structures and beings that 
exemplify them came to be. 

The highest of these exemplars is himself 
conscious of ends. He pronounces that critical 
monosyllable I. I am, I will, I accomplish ends. 
I modify the outcome of Nature. Here, at 
length, is something " on the planets " which 
u has been concerned in events ; " and in my 
opinion it is just now a good and useful theistic 
view which connects this something with all the 
lower psychological phenomena that preceded 
and accompany it. Our wills, in their limited 
degree, modify the course of Nature, subservi- 
ent though that be to fixed laws. By our will 
we make these laws subserve our ends. We 
momently violate the uniformity of Nature. 
But we do not violate the law of the uniformity 
of Nature. Is it not legitimate, is it not inev- 


itable, that a being who knows that he is a will, 
and a power, and a successful contriver, should 
explain what he sees around and above him by 
the hypothesis of a higher and supreme will? 
A will which has disposed things in view of 
ends in establishing Nature, and which may, it 
need be, dispose to particular and timed ends, 
either with or without perceptible suspension of 
the law of the uniformity of Nature. 

The question I ask has been adversely an- 
swered, substantially as follows : It may be that 
in the first instance men can hardly avoid pred- 
icating a being who has done and is doing all 
this. Nevertheless a trained mind soon reaches 
the incongruity of it, at least " as concerns any 
events which have happened within the range 
of the solar system." For the belief that a 
supernatural power has so acted contradicts that 
very belief in the uniformity of Nature upon 
which all scientific reasoning and practical judg- 
ments rest. 

To this it is well rejoined, that the ultimate 
scientific belief on which our reason reposes " is 
that belief in the uniformity of Nature which is 
equivalent to a belief in the law of universal 
causation ; which again is equivalent to a belief 
that similar antecedents are always followed by 


similar consequents. But this belief is in no 
way inconsistent with a belief in supernatural 
interference." * If the principle of the uni- 
formity of Nature asserted that every natural 
effect is, and has ever been, preceded by natu- 
ral causes, then it would be in terms inconsistent 
with* supernatural interference and with super- 
natural origination of the system. But science 
does not give us nor find any such principle. 
All scientific beliefs " are in themselves as true 
and as fully proved if supernatural interference 
be possible as they are if such interference be 
impossible. A law does no more than state that 
under certain circumstances (positive and nega- 
tive) certain phenomena will occur. If on some 
occasions these circumstances, owing to super- 
natural interference, do not occur, the fact that 
the phenomena do not follow proves nothing as 
to the truth or falsehood of the law." * If such 
interference violates the law of the uniformity 
of Nature, the human will, and all wills, and all 
direction of material forces to ends, are every 
day violating it. 

It is also urged that giving particular direc- 

* Balfour (Arthur). A Defence of Philosophic Doubt, p. 
329. The note on the Discrepancy between Religion and Science 
is particularly pertinent. 


tion in a special act would be an addition to the 
plenum of force in the universe, and therefore a 
contradiction to the recently acquired scientific 
principle of the conservation of energy. The 
answer mav be this. It is not at all certain 
that all direction given to force expends force ; 
it is certain that, under collocations, a minute 
use of force (as pulling a hair-trigger or jostling 
a valve) may bring about immense results ; 
and, finally, increments of force by Divine ac- 
tion in time, of the kind in question, if such 
there be, could never in the least be known to 

The only remaining supposition that I now 
think of is the crude one that thought and 
will are functions of the body, secretions as it 
were of the organ through which they are mani- 
fested, " psychical modes of motion/ ' Then, as 
lias well been said, they must be correlated 
with physical modes of motion, at least in 
conception ; but it is conceded by all sensible 
thinkers that thought cannot be translated into 
extension, nor extension into thought. Now, 
since the only conceivable source of physical 
force is supernatural power, still more must this 
1)" the only conceivable source of* thought. 

There is an old objection which threatens to 


undermine the ground on which we infer Divine 
will from the analogy of human; namely, that 
our wills, being a part of the course of Nature 
and amenable to its laws, their movements, 
though seemingly free, are as fixed as physical 
sequences. Upon this insoluble problem we have 
nothing practical to say, except to admit that so 
much of choice is determined by antecedent 
conditions and the surroundings, by hereditary 
bias, by what has been made for the individual 
and inwrought into his nature, that, granting the 
will has an element of freedom, it may be in 
effect a small factor. I can only urge that it is 
not an insignificant factor. As to this, a pertinent 
although homely suggestion came to me in the 
remark of a humble but shrewd neighbor, to 
the effect that he found the difference between 
people and people he dealt with was really very 
little, but that what there is was very important. 
So facts and reasonings may shut us up to the 
conclusion that the will, sovereign as it seems 
to the user, is practically a small factor in the 
determination of events. But what there is 
makes all the difference in the world in man ! 

And now, as to man himself in relation to evo- 
lution. I have no time left for the discussion 



of questions which naturally interest you more 
than any other, but which, even with time at dis- 
posal, are not easy to treat. I will not undertake 
to consider what your attitude should be upon a 
matter which connects itself with grave ulterior 
considerations ; but I will very briefly and frank- 
ly intimate what views I think a scientific man, 
religiously disposed, is likely to entertain. 

To pursue the illustration just ventured upon : 
The anatomical and physiological difference be- 
tween man and the higher brutes is not great 
from a natural-history point of view, compared 
with the difference between these and lower 
grades of animals ; but we may justly say that 
what corporeal difference there is is extremely 
important. The series of considerations which 
suggest evolution up to man, suggest man's evo- 
lution also. We may, indeed, fall back upon Mr. 
Darwin's declaration, in a case germane to this, 
that " analogy may be a deceitful guide." Yet 
here it is the only guide we have. If the alter- 
native be the immediate origination out of 
nothing, or out of the soil, of the human form 
with all its actual marks, there can be no doubt 
which side a scientific man will take. Mediate 
creation, derivative origination will at once be 
accepted ; and the mooted question comes to be 


narrowed down to this : Can the corporeal dif- 
ferences between man and the rest of the animal 
kingdom be accounted for by known natural 
causes, or must they be attributed to unknown 
causes ? And shall we assume these unknown 
causes to be natural or supernatural ? As to the 
first question, you are aw T are, from my whole 
line of thought and argument, that I know no 
natural process for the transformation of a brute 
mammal into a man. But I am equally at a 
loss as respects the processes through which any 
one species, any one variety, gives birth to an- 
other. Yet I do not presume to limit Nature by 
my small knowledge of its laws and powers. I 
know that a part of these still occult processes 
are in the every-day course of Nature * I am 
persuaded that it is so through the animal king- 
dom generally ; I cannot deny it as respects the 
highest members of that kingdom. I allow, 
however, that the superlative importance of 
comparatively small corporeal differences in this 
comsummate case may justify any one in re- 
garding it as exceptional. In most respects, 
man is an exceptional creature. If, however, I 
decline to regard man's origin as exceptional in 
the sense of directly supernatural, you will un- 
derstand that it is because, under my thoroughly 


theistic conception of Nature, and my belief in 
mediate creation, I am at a loss to know what I 
should mean by the exception. I do not allow 
myself to believe that immediate creation would 
make man's origin more divine. And I do not 
approve either the divinity or the science of 
those who are prompt to invoke the super- 
natural to cover our ignorance of natural causes, 
and equally so to discard its aid whenever natu- 
ral causes are found sufficient.* 

It is probable that the idea of mediate crea- 
tion would be more readily received, except for 
a prevalent misconception upon a point of ge- 
nealogy. When the naturalist is asked, what 
and whence the origin of man, he can only an- 
swer in the words of Quatrefages and Virchow, 
" We do not know at all." We have traces of 
his existence up to and even anterior to the 
latest marked climatic change in our temperate 
zone : but he was then perfected man ; and no 
vestige of an earlier form is known. The be- 
liever in direct or special creation is entitled to 
the advantage which this negative evidence 
gives. A totally unknown ancestry has the 
characteristics of nobility. The evolutionist 

* See Baden Powell, On The Order of Nature, p. 163. 


can give one satisfactory assurance. As the 
wolf in the fable was captious in his complaint 
that the lamb below had muddied the brook he 
was drinking from, so those are mistaken who 
suppose that the simian race can have defiled 
the stream along which evolution traces human 
descent. Sober evolutionists do not suppose 
that man has descended from monkeys. The 
stream must have branched too early for that. 
The resemblances, which are the same in fact 
under any theory, are supposed to denote collat- 
eral relationship. 

The psychological differences between man 
and the higher brute animals you do not expect 
me now to discuss. Here, too, we may say 
that, although gradations abridge the wide in- 
terval, the transcendent character of the super- 
added must count for more than a host of 
lower similarities and identities ; for, surely, 
what difference there is between the man and 
the animal in this respect is supremely impor- 

If we cannot reasonably solve the problems 
even of inorganic nature without assuming ini- 
tial causation, and if we assume for that su- 
preme intelligence, shall we not more freely 
assume it, and with all the directness the case 



may require, in the field where intelligence at 
length develops intelligences? But while, on 
the one hand, we rise in thought into the su- 
pernatural, on the other we need not forget 
that one of the three old orthodox opinions, — 
the one held to be tenable if not directly favored 
by Augustine, and most accordant to his the- 
ology, as it is to observation, — is that souls as 
well as lives are propagated in the order of 
Nature. Here we may note, in passing, that 
since the " theologians are as much puzzled to 
form a satisfactory conception of the origin of 
each individual soul as naturalists are to con- 
ceive of the origin of species," and since the 
Darwinian and the theologian (at least the Tra- 
ducian) take similar courses to find a way out 
of their difficulties, they might have a little 
more sympathy for each other. The high Cal- 
vinist and the Darwinian have a goodly number 
of points in common.* 

View these high matters as you will, the out- 
come, as concerns us, of the vast and partly 
comprehensible system, which under one aspect 
we call Nature, and under another Providence, 

* See an article on Some Analogies between Calvinism and 
Darwinism, by Rev. G. F. Wright, in the Bibliotheca Sacra, 
January, 1880. 


and in part under another, Creation, is seen in 
the emergence of a free and self-determining 
personality, which, being capable of conceiving 
it, may hope for immortality. 

"May hope for immortality." You ask for 
the reasons of this hope upon these lines of 
thought. I suppose that they are the same as 
your own, so far as natural reasons go. A being 
who has the faculty — however bestowed — of 
reflective, abstract thought superadded to all 
lower psychical faculties, is thereby per sattum 
immeasurably exalted. This, and only this, 
brings with it language and all that comes from 
that wonderful instrument ; it carries the germs 
of all invention and all improvement, all that 
man does and may do in his rule over Nature 
and his power of ideally soaring above it. So 
we may well deem this a special gift, the gift 
beyond recall, in which all hope is enshrined. 
None of us have any scientific or philosophi- 
cal explanation to offer as to how it came to be 
added to what we share with the brutes that 
perish ; but it puts man into another world 
than theirs, both here, and — with the aid 
of some evolutionary ideas, we may add — here- 


Let us consider. It must be that the Eternal 
can alone impart the gift of eternal life. But 
He alone originates life. Now what of that life 
which reaches so near to ours, yet misses it 
so completely? The perplexity this question 
raises was as great as it is now before evolu- 
tion was ever heard of; it has been turned into 
something much more trying than perplexity 
by the assurance with which monistic evolu- 
tionists press their answer to the question; but 
a better line of evolutionary doctrine may do 
something tow r ard disposing of it. It will not 
do to say that thought carries the implication 
of immortality. For our humble companions 
have the elements of that, or of simple ratiocina- 
tion, and the power of reproducing conceptions 
in memory, and — what is even more to the 
present purpose — in dreams. Once admit this 
to imply immortality and you will be obliged to 
make soul coextensive with life, as some have 
done, thereby well-nigh crushing the whole doc- 
trine of immortality with the load laid upon it. 
At least this is poising the ponderous pyramid 
on its apex, and the apex on a logical fallacy. 
For the entire conception that the highest brute 
animals may be endowed with an immortal prin- 
ciple is a rellection from the conception of such 


a principle in ourselves ; and so the farther down 
you carry it, the wider and more egregious the 
circle you are reasoning in. 

Still, w r ith all life goes duality. There is the 
matter, and there is the life, and we cannot get 
one out of the other, unless you define matter 
as something which works to ends. As all agree 
that reflective thought cannot be translated into 
terms of extension (matter and motion), nor the 
converse, so as truly it cannot be translated into 
terms of sensation and perception, of desire and 
affection, of even the feeblest vital response 
to external impressions, of simplest life. The 
duality runs through the whole. You cannot 
reasonably give over any part of the field to the 
monist, and retain the rest. 

Now see how evolution may help you ; — in 
its conception that, while all the lower serves 
its purpose for the time being, and is a stage 
toward better and higher, the lower sooner or 
later perish, the higher, the consummate, sur- 
vive. The soul in its bodily tenement is the 
final outcome of Nature. May it not well be 
that the perfected soul alone survives the final 
struggle of life, and indeed " then chiefly lives,'' 
— because in it all worths and ends inhere ; 
because it only is worth immortality, because 


it alone carries in itself the promise and poten- 
tiality of eternal life ! Certainly in it only is 
the potentiality of religion, or that which aspires 
to immortality. 

Here I should close ; but, in justice to myself 
and to you, a word must still be added. You 
rightly will say that, although theism is at the 
foundation of religion, the foundation is of 
small practical value without the superstruc- 
ture. Your supreme interest is Christianity; 
and you ask me if I maintain that the doc- 
trine of evolution is compatible with this. I 
am bound to do so. Yet I have left myself 
no time in which to vindicate my claim ; which 
I should wish to do most earnestly, yet very 
deferentially, considering where and to whom 
I speak. Here we reverse positions: you are 
the professional experts ; I am the unskilled 

I accept Christianity on its own evidence, 
which I am not here to specify or to justify; 
and I am yet to learn how physical or any other 
science conflicts with it any more than it con- 
flicts with simple theism. I take it that religion 
is based on the idea of a Divine Mind revealing 
himself to intelligent creatures for moral ends. 


We shall perhaps agree that the revelation on 
which our religion is based is an example of 
evolution; that it has been developed by de- 
grees and in stages, much of it in connection 
with second causes and human actions; and 
that the current of revelation has been mingled 
with the course of events. I suppose that the 
Old Testament carried the earlier revelation 
and the germs of Christianity, as the apostles 
carried the treasures of the gospel, in earthen 
vessels. I trust it is reverent, I am confident it 
is safe and wise, to consider that revelation in 
its essence concerns things moral and spiritual ; 
and that the knowledge of God's character and 
will which has descended from the fountain- 
head in the earlier ages has come down to us, 
through annalists and prophets and psalmists, in 
a mingled stream, more or less tinged or ren- 
dered turbid by the earthly channels through 
which it has worn its way. The stream brings 
down precious gold, and so may be 'called a 
golden stream; but the water — the vehicle of 
transportation — is not gold. Moreover the 
analogy of our inquiry into design in Nature 
may teach us that we may be unable always 
accurately to sift out the gold from the earthy 


But, however we may differ in regard to the 
earlier stages of religious development, we shall 
a°ree in this, that revelation culminated, and 
for us most essentially consists, in the advent of 
a Divine Person, who, being made man, mani- 
fested the Divine Nature in union with the 
human ; and that this manifestation constitutes 

Having accepted the doctrine of the incar- 
nation, itself the crowning miracle, attendant 
miracles are not obstacles to belief. Their 
primary use must have been for those who wit- 
nessed them ; and we may allow that the record 
of a miracle cannot have the convincing force 
of the miracle itself. But the very reasons on 
which scientific men reject miracles for the 
carrying on of Nature may operate in favor of 
miracles to attest an incoming of the super- 
natural for moral ends. At least they have 
nothing to declare against them. 

If now you ask me, What are the essential 
contents of that Christianity which is in my 
view as compatible with my evolutionary con- 
ceptions as with former scientific beliefs, it may 
suffice to answer that they are briefly summed 
up in the early creeds of the Christian Church, 
reasonably interpreted. The creeds to be taken 


into account are only two, — one commonly called 
the Apostles', the other the Nicene. The latter 
and larger is remarkable for its complete avoid- 
ance of conflict with physical science. The 
language in which its users " look for the resur- 
rection of the dead " bears — and doubtless at 

its adoption had in the minds of at least some 
of the council — a worthier interpretation than 
that naturally suggested by the short western 
creed, namely, the crude notion of the revivi- 
fication of the human body, against which St. 
Paul earnestly protested. 

Moreover, as brethren uniting in a common 
worship, we may honorably, edifyingly, and 
wisely use that which we should not have for- 
mulated, but may on due occasion qualify, — 
statements, for instance, dogmatically pronounc- 
ing upon the essential nature of the Supreme 
Being (of which nothing can be known and 
nothing is revealed), instead of the Divine 
manifestation. We may add more to our con- 
fession : we all of us draw more from the ex-. 
haustless revelation of Christ in the gospels; 
but this should suffice for the profession of 
Christianity. If you ask, must we require that, 
I reply that I am merely stating what I ac- 
cept. Whoever else will accept Him who is 


himself the substance of Christianity, let him 
do it in his own way. 

In conclusion, we students of natural science 
and of theology have very similar tasks. Na- 
ture is a complex, of which the human race 
through investigation is learning more and more 
the meaning and the uses. The Scriptures are 
a complex, an accumulation of a long series of 
records, which are to be well understood only 
by investigation. It cannot be that in all these 
years we have learned nothing new of their 
meaning and uses to us, and have nothing still 
to learn. Nor can it be that we are not free to 
use what we learn in one line of study to limit, 
correct, or remodel the ideas which we obtain 
from another. 

Gentlemen of the Theological School, about 
to become ministers of the gospel, receive this 
discourse with full allowance for the different 
point of view from which we survey the field. 
If I, in my solicitude to attract scientific men to 
religion, be thought to have minimized the 
divergence of certain scientific from religious 
beliefs, 1 pray thai you on the other hand will 
never needlessly exaggerate them ; for that may 
be more harmful. 1 am persuaded that you, in 


your day, will enjoy the comfort of a much 
better understanding between the scientific and 
the religious mind than has prevailed. Yet 
without doubt a full share of intellectual and 
traditional difficulties will fall to your lot. Dis- 
creetly to deal with them, as well for your- 
selves as for those who may look to you for 
guidance, rightly to present sensible and sound 
doctrine both to the learned aiid the ignorant, 
the lowly and the lofty-minded, the simple be- 
liever and the astute speculatist, you will need 
all the knowledge and judgment you can 
acquire from science and philosophy, and all 
the superior wisdom your supplications may 
draw from the Infinite Source of knowledge, 
wisdom, and grace. 




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